Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will perform a feasibility study for nuclear applications to the shipping industry, including newcleo’s lead-cooled small modular reactors (SMRs) technology.

Safeguarding marine life 

The focus of the study is currently on the naval industry: The deployment of newcleo’s lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR) for naval propulsion would involve placing a closed mini reactor on vessels as a small nuclear battery producing a 30MW electric output. This would require refueling only once every 10-15 years, very limited maintenance and easy replacement at end of life.

Using nuclear power on ships would safeguard the marine ecosystem in the event of an accident, according to Fincantieri. With newcleo’s design the liquid lead inside the reactor would solidify as it cools down in contact with the cold water, enclosing the reactor core in a solid casing, and containing all radiation due to the shielding properties of lead.

‘Huge potential’ 

Pierroberto Folgiero, CEO and GM of Fincantieri, said, ‘Today Fincantieri reaffirms its vocation to be a pioneer and catalyst for progress in the maritime sector with cutting-edge, efficient and sustainable technologies. Indeed, the agreement allows us to explore the possibility of adding a new and visionary solution among those at our disposal to achieve the ambitious decarbonisation goals the industry has set for itself.’

He continued, ‘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.’ 

One answer to decarbonising the industry

Ugo Salerno, chairman and CEO of RINA, added, ‘The improvement of fuel efficiency and vessel design is already giving good results in reducing shipping footprint. But, in order to reach the targets fixed for this industry, we need alternative fuels with low carbon content from well to waste. Nuclear will be one of the answers to these objectives. In addition, small modular reactors will be the most efficient solution to apply nuclear to shipping.’

Salerno continued, ‘We are proud to cooperate with newcleo and Fincantieri in order to make feasible, as soon as possible, the implementation of SMRs on vessels.’ 

newcleo chairman and CEO Stefano Buono said he looks forward ‘to the results of the feasibility study and the next steps of the project.’