Are there any nuclear cargo ships?

Civilian Nuclear Ships Suffer Specialized Infrastructure Costs. Photo taken by crew member Dan Campbell, courtesy of NS Savannah Association, Inc. These three Westinghouse K-241 meters replaced a single meter with a selector switch to switch between three channels. The control panels of this ship underwent a series of changes over the years as modifications and improvements were made.

With the increasing attention paid to greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels for international air and maritime transport, in particular dirty fuel for the latter, and the excellent safety record of nuclear-powered ships, it is quite conceivable that there will be renewed attention given to marine nuclear powered vessels, interest in marine nuclear propulsion is likely to be renewed. Global merchant shipping is reported to have a total energy capacity of 410 GWt, approximately one third of that of global nuclear power plants. The first nuclear-powered merchant ship was the NS Savannah, primarily as a demonstration vessel, commissioned in 1964 and withdrawn from service in 1972 (pictured above). The dismantling of dismantled nuclear submarines has become an important task for the navies of the United States and Russia.

Work on marine nuclear propulsion began in the 1940s, and the first test reactor was launched in the United States in 1953.The history of nuclear propulsion of ships dates back to the mid-1950s, when the United States developed the Nautilus submarine. With the growing concern these days about the pollutants that commercial ships traveling all over the world's oceans put in the air, there is a thunderous background that begins anew about the shift to commercial (i.e., non-military) ships with nuclear propulsion. CGN then signed an agreement with the National Marine Petroleum Corporation of China (CNOOC) apparently to provide energy for offshore oil and gas exploration and production, and to “boost the organic integration of the offshore oil industry and the nuclear power industry,” according to CNOOC. In fact, nuclear sailors have lower cancer mortality rates than the same age group in the general population.

Thousands and thousands of people, 22,000 people at any given time, have lived, worked, eaten and slept a stone's throw from these nuclear reactors for 60 years without any adverse effects of radiation. Only on very rare occasions and courtesy of intergovernmental negotiation, did the Suez Canal Authority allow a nuclear ship to transit the canal. A nuclear power plant can produce electrical energy with an efficiency of 36 percent from the fuel rod to the transmission line, which produces a total efficiency peak of 18 percent from the power plant through hydrogen and the fuel cell to the propeller. Molten salt nuclear material is becomes liquid at around 750 degrees F (400 degrees C) and is solid below that temperature.

For use in shallow waters such as estuaries and rivers, two 18,260 deadweight Taymyr-class shallow draft icebreakers were built in Finland with a 171 MWt KLT-40M reactor supplying 35 MW of propulsion and then equipped with its nuclear steam supply system in Russia. A new Russian test bench submarine runs on diesel, but has a very small nuclear reactor for auxiliary power. Direct use of nuclear energy for commercial ship propulsion allows arable land to be used for food production to feed human populations, rather than cultivating crops to produce biofuel. Obviously, they should fully adopt the protocols and procedures of the Nuclear Navy - they have worked so well for so long - there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.


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