Newcleo has signed an agreement with Fincantieri and RINA to carry out a feasibility study for nuclear applications for the shipping industry. The study includes newcleo’s lead-cooled small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

Newcleo is a nuclear technology company developing Generation IV reactors using nuclear waste as fuel. Fincantieri is one of the largest shipbuilding companies in the world, while RINA is a classification society.

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. The shipping industry, via the International Maritime Organization (IMO), has set new targets for GHG emission reduction and is to reach net-zero GHG emissions by or around 2050.

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Lead-cooled Fast Reactor

The deployment of Newcleo’s innovative Lead-cooled Fast Reactor (LFR) for naval propulsion would involve placing a closed mini reactor on vessels as a small nuclear battery producing a 30 MW electric output. This would require infrequent refuelling (only once every ten to fifteen years), very limited maintenance and easy replacement at end of life.

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.

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Safe in case of accident

Also, using nuclear power on ships would safeguard the marine ecosystem in the event of an accident. 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.

‘I am delighted that we are launching a project for civil nuclear naval propulsion with this important feasibility study,’ says Stefano Buono, Newcleo Chairman and CEO. ‘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.’

Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO and General Manager of Fincantieri, adds: ‘Fincantieri reaffirms its vocation to be a pioneer and catalyst for progress in the maritime sector with cutting-edge, efficient and sustainable technologies. Indeed, the agreement allows us to explore the possibility of adding a new and visionary solution among those at our disposal to achieve the ambitious decarbonisation goals the industry has set for itself. Nuclear power holds enormous potential and, as such, it needs the best expertise to be expressed, and we are proud to join with partners like Newcleo and Rina to help get this done.’

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