Nuclear power for commercial ships

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Jccarlton
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Nuclear power for commercial ships

Post by Jccarlton »

It looks like nuclear power would actually be viable for large container ships:
http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/07/nuclea ... pping.html

Polywell has a good chance of being a good contender here too of course. I wonder if Maersk/Sealand knows about polywell.

chrismb
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Post by chrismb »

I've been an advocate of nuclear power container shipping for a long time. I am lead to believe that some 20% of all liquid hydorcarbons in transport go into such shipping. That should keep the greens happy.

I reckon this could be done failry unilaterally as well. If either the US or China made it a statutory requirement that all container shipping docking in their countries were nuclear powered by 2015, then it would highly motivate the shipping industry to adopt such power. I guess the question marks are over security. How many Nimitz class ships have been hi-jacked off Somalia?

(Funnily enough, though, as marine diesel is very high in sulphur, so a large, supposedly globally cooling, particulate exhaust issues from them thus mostly cancelling out the likelihood of CO2 emissions causing warming.)

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

chrismb wrote:I've been an advocate of nuclear power container shipping for a long time. I am lead to believe that some 20% of all liquid hydorcarbons in transport go into such shipping. That should keep the greens happy.

I reckon this could be done failry unilaterally as well. If either the US or China made it a statutory requirement that all container shipping docking in their countries were nuclear powered by 2015, then it would highly motivate the shipping industry to adopt such power. I guess the question marks are over security. How many Nimitz class ships have been hi-jacked off Somalia?

(Funnily enough, though, as marine diesel is very high in sulphur, so a large, supposedly globally cooling, particulate exhaust issues from them thus mostly cancelling out the likelihood of CO2 emissions causing warming.)
I don't know if it is possible to get commercial ships to maintain the discipline the US Navy does re: safety.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

kunkmiester
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Post by kunkmiester »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ci ... lear_ships

A tiny handful have been made. Too many stupid NIMBYs, I suppose.
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KitemanSA
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Post by KitemanSA »

kunkmiester wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ci ... lear_ships

A tiny handful have been made. Too many stupid NIMBYs, I suppose.
Nahhh. Too many profit motivated companies.

New times, new economics, new motivations. Maybe they were just ahead of their time!

kunkmiester
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Post by kunkmiester »

Nuclear power is cheaper than oil or coal. With the proven savings and safety of marine nuclear power, it should be a no-brainer. Too many people have cried wolf about the hazards, and there are still far too many Chicken Littles that will go paranoid over stupid things. It's not done because it's technically infeasible, it's not done because it's politically infeasible.
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D Tibbets
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Post by D Tibbets »

kunkmiester wrote:Nuclear power is cheaper than oil or coal. With the proven savings and safety of marine nuclear power, it should be a no-brainer. Too many people have cried wolf about the hazards, and there are still far too many Chicken Littles that will go paranoid over stupid things. It's not done because it's technically infeasible, it's not done because it's politically infeasible.
Nuclear power (fision) potentiallly may be cheaper, at least before all the regulation kicks in.
I'm not sure how safe nuclear reactors at sea have been (especially the Russian subs which may have been less robust from a safty perspective) . A few nuclear subs have sunk, mostly in deep water. The most obvous advantage is that you don't leave craters in the ocean. Also there are no people nearby, the oceans have tremendous dillution capability, and provided the ships sink in deep water away from deep sea vulcanic vents- there is very little active biology nearby. Sinking with a core leak in a harbor is a different matter.


Dan Tibbets
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Skipjack
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Post by Skipjack »

If I recall correctly there were only two reactor accidents in the history of the russian navy. I think only one of the subs actually sunk the other one was able to return to the harbour. If I recall correctly, the other russian accidents were mostly due to explosions of their liquid fueled ballistic missiles. The US sub- BMs ( Trident and co) use solid fuel which is more stable.

jgarry
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Post by jgarry »

I think there are some designs with great potential for nuclear reactors. However, don't bring up the soviets. They weren't very careful.

kunkmiester
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Post by kunkmiester »

Regulatinos are political, and so covered. The U.S. Navy I'd imagine has had a similar, if not better record than the Russians. Modern reactors find it very hard to go boom, anyway. You'll either be leaking coolant, or will have a radioactive pile of junk at the bottom.

Nuclear power for commercial ships I believe was thought about soon after the navy went nuclear. There are just too many people who don't properly understand the issues, or are in someone's pocket, to get it through.
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chrismb
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Post by chrismb »

Moving the thread sideways, somewhat, another proposal I have advocated (I think it was suggested long before me!) is the nuclear powered airship.

Rigid airships of the 30's had enormous lifting capacities, having to take water ballast even when insufficiently loaded. Then they had wood, leather, brass, silk and duraluminium was only just developed, oh, plus DELAG ended up painting the whole envelope of the last two, the Graf Zeppelin II and the Hindenburg, in aluminium/iron oxide for thermal control (bloody big "whoops"!!!...).

Surely we can do better now? Rigid cargo airships would provide an alternative to road haulage and mean whole engineering assemblies could be built at factory without having to be packaged for transport. How about factory built houses, flown in by airship?

Airships would never land, passenger flights would be boarded by shuttle helicopters. The most dangerous part of airship operation is landing and close-to-ground operations. Nuclear would mean they can stay airbourne indefinitely.

I suggested such a scheme to a senior Navy guy - let's have a few dozen airships in permanent station at 20,000' around the coast, and Harriers fly up to, and off, them for immediate intercept and interdiction. He took the idea seriously - as well he might because I meant it seriously.

Finally, if one gets to a point where energy supply is essentially unrestricted, either fission or a future prospect of fusion, then the airships can employ water vapour as the lifting gas. H2O is ~half the weight of air. Multiple envelopes mean [minimal] condensation on the inner liner will run down to a lower point, where it can be re-evaporated by equipment for maintaining the lifting vapour.

kunkmiester
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Post by kunkmiester »

vapor will be tricky though, you have to keep it warmer so it doesn't condense. I'd imagine it'd improve the efficiency of a hot air system, by using vapor instead of hot air.
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chrismb
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Post by chrismb »

kunkmiester wrote:vapor will be tricky though, you have to keep it warmer so it doesn't condense. I'd imagine it'd improve the efficiency of a hot air system, by using vapor instead of hot air.
It's been done already. It's not an original idea of mine. An internet search should reveal such projects....

KitemanSA
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Post by KitemanSA »

kunkmiester wrote:Nuclear power is cheaper than oil or coal.
This may be true for landbased powerplants, but recent studies by the GAO (CBO?) indicates that NRs for ships smaller than carriers only pay for themselves when oil is at the ~$150/bbl range. The Navy uses them for reasons other than simple cost-effectiveness.

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

KitemanSA wrote:
kunkmiester wrote:Nuclear power is cheaper than oil or coal.
This may be true for landbased powerplants, but recent studies by the GAO (CBO?) indicates that NRs for ships smaller than carriers only pay for themselves when oil is at the ~$150/bbl range. The Navy uses them for reasons other than simple cost-effectiveness.
Carriers carry bunker oil to refuel the carrier screen.

The nuke power also allows carrying extra aviation fuel as well.

So the value of nukes is operational.

All the nuclear cruisers have been retired.

I'd estimate the main extra cost is the highly trained operators.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

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