Chinese Firm Reveals Nuclear Powered Cargo Ship Design

 During the decade of the 1950s, nuclear energy was seen as a source of energy that could solve various issues of the electricity needs of human civilization. It was also tested on the Convair NB-36H airplane and the cargo ship NS Savannah. But now nuclear technology is used only by aircraft carriers and American submarines and Russian icebreakers. This is because nuclear power increases maintenance costs as well as the risk of nuclear contamination if the ship is involved in an accident.

Shanghai-based shipbuilding firm Jiangnan Shipyard has unveiled its KUN-24AP container cargo ship design that uses a thorium molten salt reactor (MSR) nuclear power source. This cargo ship, if built, will be the world's largest nuclear powered ship but also one of the world's largest cargo ships with a starting capacity of 24,000 TEU containers.

Thorium MSR technology has been developed since the 1950s, but it was seen at that time that it was not as good as uranium reactors that used a liquid cooling system. China has recently invested heavily in developing thorium reactors for domestic energy needs. MSR thorium was chosen because it can be built in water-scarce areas such as the Gobi desert in northern China.

The advantage of thorium fuel is that it is up to four times more abundant on earth than Uranium. Meanwhile MSR thorium will not have the issue of core destruction like the Chernobyl incident or produce hydrogen like the Fukushima incident.

The downside of thorium is that mining costs are higher and MSR maintenance costs are also more frequent. The KUN-24AP design was shown because the shipping industry has a reputation as a contributor to world pollution.

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