SEOUL — Seaborg Technologies, a private Danish startup, joined hands with Samsung Heavy Industries, a major shipbuilder in South Korea, to develop a floating power generation facility using a compact molten salt reactor which is relatively safe by using fuel mixed in a liquid salt whose boiling point is far above temperatures produced by fission products.
Solid fuel rods used in conventional reactors need constant cooling with water under high pressure. The low boiling point of water creates a potential point of failure. Instead of graphite as a moderator, a compact molten salt reactor (CMSR) uses molten sodium hydroxide contained in pipes, enabling a more compact design. It also allows the liquid moderator to be rapidly removed from the core.
Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) signed a memorandum of understanding with Seaborg for technical cooperation to develop a floating CMSR power generation model with a maximum output of 800 megawatts by the end of 2022. The final goal is to develop hydrogen and ammonia production facilities using electricity produced by floating power generation facilities.
“SHI is focusing its capabilities on developing products that utilize carbon-neutral technologies from renewable energy such as hydrogen and wind power to nuclear power,” SHI CEO Jung Jin-taek said in a statement on April 7. Seaborg CEO Troels Schönfeldt expressed hope that the partnership with SHI would accelerate the commercialization of offshore nuclear power plants, citing CMSR as a new solution that can effectively respond to climate change.
SHI partnered with the state-run Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) in June 2021 for the development of a small carbon-free fission reactor based on molten salt that would be used for ships and floating nuclear power plants. They regard a ship based on a molten salt reactor (MSR) that could produce electricity and hydrogen at the same time as a game-changer in international logistics.
MSRs are a class of small modular reactors (SMRs) that have been studied to address the limitations of traditional light-water reactors. MSRs can reduce expensive containment structures and eliminate hydrogen as a source of explosion risk and do not produce dangerous and radioactive fission gases that are under pressure.
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