This was the question in need of an answer when NCE Maritime CleanTech gathered experts to a new Tech Update.

– In maritime nuclear propulsion has been around for a long time. It was first seen on the USS Nautilus in 1955 and since then nearly 700 reactors have served at sea. Today we have around 100 reactors in operation at sea, said John Ross, Global Risk Coordinator at Lloyd´s Register.

One of the reasons that nuclear propulsion was the topic of NCE Maritime CleanTech’s Tech Update in March is that you get a lot of energy out off a small unit, and there is almost no emissions at all.

– The energy density in thorium is 23 million times higher than that of other green fuels available today. Uranium is 40 million times more power dense. Thus, nucelar has to be discussed. We need to debate it. One of the issues in today’s debate is that you end up in discussions about worst case scenarios. We need to turn the discussion around; How can we use nuclear power in a safe way? Nuclear power can give us a lot more bang for the buck, Ross said.


– A revolution at sea

Also speaking at the webinar was Technical Director at Core Power Giulio Gennaro, an expert within Marine Molten Salt Reactors (MSR).

– MSR is the best alternative for maritime power. It´s safe, clean, cheap, abundant and scalable. Norway should really engage to benefit from the opportunities MSR has to offer, Gennaro said.

Jan Emblemsvåg, Ph.D., Associate Professor at NTNU, started his presentation talking about some of the myths connected to nuclear power.

– One myth about nuclear power is that a lot of people die. That is wrong. If we look at the facts it’s really among the safest ways to produce energy, Emblemsvåg said.

He showed statistics to prove his point: If we measure death rates from energy sources as the number of deaths from air pollution and accidents per terawatt-hour (TWh) of energy production, the production of brown coal has the highest mortality rate (32.72). The rate for nuclear´s number is 0,01 per produced TWh.


Much Thorium in Norway

Another fact that makes nuclear propulsion interesting is that Norway has a lot of Thorium. According to Emblemsvåg estimates show that 87,000 to 320,000 tonnes of Thorium can be found in Norway .

– A lot will happen in the coming years. Many countries are working on projects involving nuclear power. But a lot of work is still to be done. The biggest job, I think, is to really start talking about the use of nuclear power. If we can turn the debate over to something rational, it would be a major step, Emblemsvåg said.

– We in NCE Maritime CleanTech know that nuclear power is a controversial topic for many people. But it is also a complex topic, where several aspects may not have been adequately covered for the general public over the years. In this webinar, we focused very much on the Molten Salt Reactor (MSR), and in future tech updates we want to contribute to further fact-based information, hereunder addressing the more challenging aspects, says Geir Odland, Director of Business Development in NCE Maritime CleanTech.

This webinar was produced exclusively for NCE Maritime CleanTechs cluster partners. All partners will have access to a recording of the webinar. The presentations are also available.