Fincantieri to Explore Nuclear Mini-Reactor for Large Vessels

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Fincantieri has announced that it has signed an agreement with newcleo, a nuclear energy company, and Rina, the Italy-based ship classification and engineering organization, to carry out a feasibility study for nuclear power applications to the shipping industry, including newcleo’s lead-cooled small modular reactor (SMRs) technology.

The deployment of newcleo’s LFR (lead-cooled fast reactor) would involve placing a closed mini reactor on vessels as a small nuclear battery producing 30 MW, according to a statement from Fincantieri, which also said that refueling would only be required once every 10 to 15 years with limited maintenance and easy replacement at the end of its service life.

Last week the IMO approved new targets for GHG emission reductions, to reach net-zero GHG emissions by or around 2050, and clean nuclear energy to power marine vessels would help to rapidly decarbonize shipping, the Italy-based shipbuilding group stated.

Also, using nuclear power on ships would safeguard the marine ecosystem further in the event of an accident. According to the announcement, with newcleo’s design the liquid lead inside the reactor would solidify as it cools down in contact with cold water, enclosing the reactor in a sold casing and containing all radiation thanks to the properties of lead.

Nuclear propulsion would also eliminate the need for frequent refueling, and at the end of its life, the lead cooled reactor would be removed and replaced with a new one, and the spent nit would be decommissioned and reprocessed.

“Fincantieri confirms its vocation to be a pioneer and catalyst for progress in the maritime sector with cutting-edge, efficient and sustainable technologies,” commented Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO and general manager.

“The agreement allows us to explore the possibility of adding a new and visionary solution among those at our disposal to achieve the decarbonization goals the industry has set itself.

“Nuclear power holds enormous potential and, as such, it needs the best expertise to be expressed, and we are proud to join with partners like newcleo and Rina to help get this done.”


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