Samsung Heavy and Seaborg to develop floating nuclear power plant combined with hydrogen and ammonia plants
09 April 2022
Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and Seaborg signed a partnership agreement to develop floating nuclear power plants based on Seaborg’s inherently safe Compact Molten Salt Reactor (CMSR).
The floating nuclear power plant comes as a turn-key product, ready to be moored at an industrial harbor. In the harbor, a transmission cable will be connected to the electric grid onshore. An optional solution is to place a hydrogen or ammonia production plant next to the floating nuclear power plant utilizing the CO2-free fission energy to produce hydrogen and ammonia.
In the CMSR, the fuel is mixed into a molten fluoride salt which also acts as the coolant. This provides significant safety benefits. If the fuel salt should ever come into contact with the atmosphere, it will simply cool down and turn into solid rock, containing all the radioactive material within itself.
Since the fuel is chemically stable and the fission products are short-lived, this waste is radiologically similar to radioactive hospital waste and can be handled using conventional methods. The remaining fuel salt will be mixed into new CMSR fuel at the fuel supplying facility. In this way the challenges of long-term storage will be avoided in the future.
The agreement includes development of hydrogen production plants and ammonia plants, as the CMSR is an ideal power source for supply of stable, clean, and safe electricity, Seaborg said. The aim of the strategic partnership is to manufacture and sell turn-key power plants, ready to be moored at industrial harbors and connected to the electric grid onshore.
The stable production of energy also offers a fundamental basis for production of all Power-2-X fuels, where especially hydrogen and ammonia are considered a future energy source to replace traditional fossil fuels. The design of the hydrogen, ammonia and power units will be optimized for efficient serial construction at SHI’s shipyards.
The floating nuclear power plant design is modular, delivering up to 800 MW-electric for the 24-year lifetime and cost-competitive whether it plugs into the grid in an existing coal port or power production of hydrogen and ammonia.
On the contrary to nuclear fusion, nuclear fission of any kind is not tolerable. Apparently very few have learned a lesson from neither Chernobyl nor Fukushima.
Posted by: yoatmon | 09 April 2022 at 04:12 AM
fission products are short-lived
This is a fast reactor, proven safe since the 1950s
Posted by: SJC | 09 April 2022 at 05:16 AM
On the contrary, fusion research hasn't panned-out, so on the supply side, it's solar, wind, water, geothermal, biomass and fission to stop the climate catastrophy. However, molten Salt is anything but proven with significant challenges to be overcome. Nonetheless, it seems doable, though it will quite likely never be as economical as the renewable alternatives. Very significant progress will come from opportunities on the demand side and with efficiencies such as thermoelectric. It just can't come soon enough.
Posted by: Nocreditreports | 09 April 2022 at 07:20 AM
In the 1950s they tested salt cooled reactors,
they just stopped, there was no melt down
Posted by: SJC | 09 April 2022 at 12:57 PM
yoatmon, you want to eschew something that works in favor of something that has never been a net energy source, and has even more of the same problem (massive physical size) which makes conventional nuclear plants expensive to build because everything has to be done on-site? Get your feet back on the ground.
Since this is a fluoride-salt reactor, it's going to be thermal spectrum. So far so good. If they're looking at net breeding it means it'll be thorium-U233, because the neutronics of U235/Pu aren't good enough to breed in a thermal spectrum.
Molten-salt reactors have a number of advantages over solid-fuel reactors, one of which is that there's no fuel fabrication cost. Another is that there is no excess reactivity and thus no need for burnable poisons. There is a very strong negative temperature coefficient; overheat the salt and it expands, leaking more neutrons and shutting down the chain reaction. You regulate the temperature by managing the concentration of fissiles. Gaseous fission products like xenon and krypton don't swell the fuel and suck up neutrons, they simply bubble out. Last is that chloride and fluoride salts have very high boiling points, allowing these reactors to operate at atmospheric pressure and eliminating the heavy, costly pressure vessels required for water-cooled reactors. This means no heavy forges are required to fabricate parts, allowing much faster and cheaper construction.
If Seaborg and SHI can lick the materials problems required to hit 1000°C temperatures, their reactor could be used to make hydrogen thermochemically by the sulfur-iodine cycle. This can hit 52% efficiency at 1000°C. From there, making ammonia is all downhill.
Frankly, I think the sulfur-iodine cycle is pure genius. You mix iodine, SO2 and water at around 100°C. What you get is hydrogen iodide (HI) and H2SO4. HI boils at around -35 C and thus off-gasses very easily, separating the hydrogen. HI cracks to H2 and I2 at around 450°C. The critical point of iodine is about 546 C and 117 bar, so the iodine can be condensed and taken off as a liquid while the hydrogen can be filtered off through something like a palladium membrane. Cracking H2SO4 back to SO2, H2O and ½O2 requires the 1000°C temperatures to hit the 52% efficiency point, but that frees your oxygen. The SO2 and iodine recycle completely; there are no effluents, only products.
I wish Seaborg and SHI the best of luck, and the rest of them too. Let a thousand Cherenkov glows bloom.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 09 April 2022 at 02:17 PM
Make plenty of hydrogen and install this in the montreal port.
Posted by: Gorr | 09 April 2022 at 04:37 PM
The new generation of reactors certainly have the potential to enhance safety manifold.
The shame in my view is that the acceptance of linear no threshold for nuclear reactors, the notion based on very little evidence that any level of radioactivity is proportionately as dangerous as high levels, is that changing or improving anything in the nuclear industry is massively expensive, so passive safety designs have been held back unduly.
Small factory built reactors have the potential to greatly reduce costs, and economically provide district heating and/or hydrogen.
They complement renewables very well, as they use little space, and in the event of, say, a major volcanic eruption significantly reducing solar panel output, make the system more robust.
It ain't either/or, it is 'all of the above, please' and getting rid of CO2 emissions.
Posted by: Davemart | 10 April 2022 at 03:04 AM
There's a lot of press and hype around nuclear these days, but all this is vaporware. The molten salt reactors are plausible but there is no vast body of long term data about the materials of the containment vessels. The competing tech is coming up with a decent grid scale battery to buffer ridiculously cheap renewables and make them dispatchable. I'd say the latter is by far the lighter technical lift. Relatively complex Li-ion is headed under$100/KWh since sufficient demand appeared. Zinc batteries should beat that handily.
Posted by: Albert E Short | 10 April 2022 at 06:15 PM
Back in 1972 - 73, I was engaged in deploying a monitoring system for a molten salt reactor in Milano, Italy. I don't know what progress has been made in the mean time on this reactor type. If the progress hasn't been immense since then I'd recommend to keep hands off.
Posted by: yoatmon | 11 April 2022 at 02:36 AM
The most expensive kWh is the one you need and do not have. Look at Europe's year-scale "wind drought" and the Russian gas crisis. Europe's "renewables" have come at the dire cost of Germany's (and so many other countries') political reliance upon an (alleged) aggressor's supplies of energy.
While Germany shuts down its reliable, carbon-free plants, Russia builds more and sells them for export. There is a lesson.
World extraction of lithium is grossly inadequate for seasonal storage of so-called "renewable" energy, let alone annual and larger-scale "droughts".
Humanity learned centuries ago that "renewables" were inferior to inventories of fuel. Coal was that first inventory, later supplemented by oil and then by natural gas.
Uranium and thorium were latwcomers to the party, but have turned out to be the best of all. When climate change came to the forefront of humanity's problems, the actinide elements came out as our saviors: they gave vast amounts of energy and put NOTHING into the atmosphere. Not toxic pollutants, not greenhouse gases, NOTHING. And what did they get for that? Relentless demonization from so-called "environmentalists" and "greens". The hell with them, and the hell with YOU.Container materials take a back seat to physics. We can design containers for replacement. We cannot design "renewables" for dispatchability.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 11 April 2022 at 03:33 AM
@yoatmon, If you read Engineer-poet valid comments, or did not, here is another perspective from a well informed neutral scientist:
Is Nuclear Power Green?
Personally I expect nuclear to fill niches where it's higher cost than solar, wind, and cheap batteries is acceptable. The H2 or NH3 co-generation angle may be a key.
Posted by: GdB | 11 April 2022 at 02:33 PM
I ripped Hossenfelder a new one in the comments of her video.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 11 April 2022 at 08:22 PM
I think the views from both the opposing camps rely on unduly pessimistic assessments of the other technology.
It is not a suitable forum for a full analysis, but the renewables only camp should make themselves more fully aware of, for instance, the potential of mass factory built passively safe 4th generation reactors to radically reduce costs whilst the safety levels climb enormously, and for ultra-high efficiencies through a variety of methods, including using waste heat for district heating and turning out hydrogen at minimal energy cost.
Nor are these reliant on far fetched and difficult to achieve breakthroughs, but several of the potential designs being near to deployability, with the main obstacle being the massive costs imposed on the nuclear industry by regulation, which perversely leads to it being cheaper to build more high cost per unit and inherently less safe reactors.
Administrative and regulatory obstacles should not be confused with technical impossibility.
On the other hand, criticisms of the supposed impossibility of providing round the clock and round the year power using renewables is equally one-eyed and confounds present practice with technical possibility.
There is loads of lithium in the sea, and extracting it as and when it becomes necessary is fairly well understood.
But for stationary storage, just because its use in cars has driven costs down so as to make it a ready to hand alternative, does not mean that that is the chemistry which is most likely to be deployed in stationary storage at scale, where weight does not count for much.
I could name half a dozen alternatives off the top of my head, including CATL's sodium batteries, various flow batteries, thermal storage and the production of hydrogen and its derivatives.
Nor are these far off alternatives, reliant on massive breakthroughs.
Personally I favour combining nuclear with renewables, and think either side seeking to write off the other at best premature, and reliant on unduly pessimistic assessments of the technology apparently to be simply written off on very sketchy grounds simply because the 'alternative' is fancied.
Posted by: Davemart | 12 April 2022 at 03:58 AM
In last night's Atomic Book Club discussion of "Fear of a Nuclear Planet", Michael Conley mentioned the potential of iron-air batteries for stationary storage. He mentioned the figure of $20/kWh.
I've run the numbers before. At $20/kWh, you can profitably buffer nuclear power across nights and weekends. Renewables require weeks of storage and aren't sufficiently cheap until you get well under $10/kWh.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 12 April 2022 at 10:57 AM
How much storage renewables need is dependent on where they are, and 100% is far harder than even, say , 90%
Using figures appropriate for the latitude of the US, let alone Europe, greatly exaggerates the issue for where most people now, and even more so in 2050, live.
Mostly they live way closer to the equator, with far less seasonal variation, so relatively little storage is needed, compared to, say, Europe or New York State.
And other low carbon technologies, for instance nuclear, can go some way to closing the gap.
We are in the wonderful position, which I would never have thought likely 20 years ago, of having the potential to produce much of the world's energy incredibly cheaply, and with very low carbon.
Sure, storage is an issue, and we don't currently have perfect solutions, but the suit of technologies including nuclear and artificial fuels are impressive, and becoming ever more cost competitive.
Posted by: Davemart | 12 April 2022 at 01:31 PM