Ulstein has launched a vessel concept capable of making the vision of zero emission cruise operations a reality.
According to a statement, the ULSTEIN THOR design, referred to as ‘Thor’, will feature a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) to generate vast amounts of clean, safe electricity.
This enables the vessel to operate as a mobile power/charging station for a new breed of battery driven cruise ships.
MSRs are safe, efficient and operationally proven solutions that work by dissolving Thorium – an abundant, naturally occurring metal with low radioactivity – in liquid salt. The ensuing chain reaction heats the salt, producing steam to drive a turbine and create electricity.
“‘Thor’ is essentially a floating, multi-purpose ‘power station’ that will enable a new battery revolution,” said Cathrine Kristiseter Marti, Ulstein’s CEO.
To demonstrate its feasibility, Ulstein has also developed the Ulstein SIF concept, a zero emission expedition cruise ship. A vessel design to accommodate up to 80 passengers and 80 crew and cruise to remote areas, including Arctic and Antarctic waters.
“Expedition cruise ships operate in increasingly remote, and environmentally fragile, areas. At the same time the industry faces growing pressure from diverse stakeholders to preserve nature as it is and ban the environmental impact of cruising,” added Marti.
Thor’s potential for delivering clean maritime power has yet to be incorporated into a vessel design. As such, ‘Thor’ is intended to provide a blueprint for entirely self-sufficient vessels of the future.
“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,” said Jan Emblemsvåg, Professor at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, an expert in the field of Thorium and nuclear power generation.
In referral to the ‘Thor’ and ‘Sif’ concept, Øyvind G. Kamsvåg, Chief Designer at Ulstein added, “Here we have two concepts in one to showcase a cleaner, safer and more sustainable way ahead for cruise ship owners and operators, not to mention maritime in general.”