Nuclear technology company Newcleo teams up with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, and class society RINA to carry out a feasibility study for nuclear applications to the shipping industry, including newcleo’s lead-cooled small modular reactors technology.

The deployment of newcleo’s technology would involve placing a closed mini reactor on vessels as a small nuclear battery producing a 30MW electric output.

This would require infrequent refuelling, which is estimated only once every 10-15 years.

Using clean nuclear energy to power marine vessels would help rapidly decarbonise a sector grappling with huge fossil fuel consumption and its consequent carbon emissions, as the two partners claim.

With newcleo’s design, the liquid lead inside the reactor would solidify as it cools down in contact with the cold water, enclosing the reactor core in a solid casing, and containing all radiation thanks to the shielding properties of lead.

“The newcleo naval propulsion reactors would eliminate the current need for frequent refuelling, and at the end of its life, the whole LFR unit would be simply removed and replaced with a new one in the ship, and the spent unit taken away for decommissioning and reprocessing,” it was said in a mutual statement by the parties.

Stefano Buono, newcleo Chairman and CEO, commented: ”Fincantieri and RINA are two global leaders in the shipping sector, and combining their expertise with our technology innovation can bring a real solution to the issue of carbon emissions in maritime transport.”