Norwegian maritime solutions company, Ulstein, has revealed a new vessel concept that claims to provide zero-emission cruises and other ocean industry applications.
A molten salt reactor (MSR) is said to be able to deliver this vision.
An MSR uses a naturally occurring metal with low radioactivity to make electricity. Usually, thorium is dissolved in molten salt and the chain reaction that follows heats up the salt to produce steam, which is then used to drive turbines and produce electricity without any emissions.
“MSRs have enormous potential for enabling clean shipping. There is so much uncertainty over future fuels, but here we have an abundant energy source that, with the right approach, can be safe, much more efficient, cheaper, with a smaller environmental footprint than any existing alternative,” noted Jan Emblemsvåg, an expert in the field of thorium and nuclear power generation and a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology said in the press release.
Ulstein has designed a concept vessel, Thor, to serve as a blueprint for making future electric vessels self-sufficient.
Thor will have helicopter pads, autonomous surface vehicles, airborne drones, cranes, workboats, rescue booms, and firefighting equipment. It will also have spaces as well as a lecture lounge.
It will be expected to power expedition cruises not only in remote areas but also in environmentally fragile ones.
Ulstein claims that Thor’s charging capacity has been scaled up to an extent that it can cater to four expedition cruises at once, while also being self-sufficient for its own power needs.
For demonstration purposes, Ulstein has also developed an Ice Class expedition vessel called SIF that will be powered by next-generation batteries. The 328 feet (100 m) long expedition vessel has a capacity of 160 members, with 80 members of the crew and 80 passengers and the capability to tread the Arctic and Antarctic waters.
The Thor concept was presented recently at Seatrade Miami.