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KHNP, Samsung Heavy and Seaborg to develop compact molten salt reactor-based floating nuclear power plants

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and Seaborg Technologies announced a consortium to develop floating nuclear power plants with Seaborg Technologies’ compact molten salt reactor (CMSR) technology. The power plants will be installed on barges with a modular design able to deliver from 200MWe to 800MWe, with the consortium’s first project expected to be a 200MWe power barge.

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 cool down and turn into solid rock, containing all the radioactive material within itself.

Upon termination of the 12-year fuel cycle, the fuel is returned to the supplier where the short-lived fission products are separated and sent to storage.The remaining fuel salt will be mixed into new CMSR fuel at the fuel supplying facility.

The consortium aims to enable timely commercialization and a scalable export of factory-produced CMSR-based floating nuclear power plants worldwide, offering improved efficiency and inherent safety characteristics. With KHNP’s extensive experience in nuclear power generation, SHI’s offshore construction expertise and Seaborg Technologies’ innovative technology, the consortium is positioned to meet the growing demand for clean and reliable energy.

Each 200MWe of generation capacity is expected to save more than 26 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its 24-year lifetime compared with a coal-fired power plant.

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. (KHNP) owns and operates Korea’s 25 nuclear power plants along with 28 hydro-electric power plants. KHNP and Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) have jointly executed the first nuclear power project in Barakah, United Arab Emirates, in 2009. Unit 1, 2, and 3 entered into commercial operation, and unit 4 is under commissioning test.



I can't think of anything not to like about this technology.

No doubt it will come in for the usual blanket criticisms of nuclear, which rely on generalisations and don't even look seriously at what is on offer.

Cost: Criticims of the high costs of nuclear refer to utterly different construction, where huge plants were built as a one off, hampered by ever changing regulations containing a hefty dose of absurdity instituted at the behest of those who were determined that nuclear should not suceeed.

Safety: Built in.

Long lived radioactive waste: Dealt with.

No doubt 'principled opposition' will not even pause to catch breath, as their minds are made up.

It was good to see Greta, who after all is about as green as it gets, was fully aware of how nutty the Germans are in turning off their remaining nuclear plants.


Nuclear power is how you separate the sheep from the goats. Which is to mean if someone or some group claims to be "green" and wants to eliminate carbon emissions and they oppose nuclear power especially generation 3/4 inherently safe plants. Then you know they have a different agenda hiding behind the green movement to conceal their true goals. Be those the elimination of capitalism, the implementation of global socialism or some form of hybrid private sector govt fascist system. True environmentalists support nuclear power as the only large scale way to have 24/7/365 power at a scale that can drive modern standards of living and economic growth period full stop. ANYONE pushing a green agenda that doesn't support nuclear power in a massive scale is hiding agenda for something else.


Way better than anything else, especially costly solar panels and windmills. Im interrested to buy cheaper electricity as i live in cold canada and it's electric heating, also my tv and play station is almost always turn-on. Now produce a lot of carbon neutral gasoline and diesel and saf .


Hi James,

Since I was born in 1950, I have been around during a considerable amount of the debate on nuclear!

Unfortunately nuclear for peaceful energy and nuclear for weapons were hopelessly confounded from the beginning, and not just by opponents.

The design chosen was largely due to its ease in facilitating nuclear weapons production.

But there is no doubt that had the rest of the world instituted a drive to nuclear on the lines of the French in the 70s, then not only would millions of lives have been saved in avoided deaths from coal mining and its pollutants, but the GW crisis would have been much mitigated.



Check this out, and see if you think it is as easy, practical, swift to implement and relatively low cost as it seems to me:

What I like about dry salted biomass storage is that there is nothing there needing much development, as we know how to grow biomass, and adding salt and burying it it hardly complicated.

So it seems to me that we can now put a figure on how much it costs to store carbon, and it is $60/ton.

That is way cheaper than fancy solutions, and could be rapidly rolled out at scale.

Of course, the proper capitalist solution would be a tax of $60/ton on carbon emissions, which is way less than the cost of the damage they do, which would rapidly reduce the amount of sequestration needed anyway, so IMO the actual amounts we would need to lay out would be a lot lower than a naive calculation would suggest.

But of course politics and influence is all about ensuring that the playing field is not level.

What do you reckon?
I sent the link to Mike here, but he did not publish for whatever reason.


I really like that salt sequestration concept, and combining it with Lithium mining from salt deposits seems like a potential win-win.

I hope the Seaborg nuclear technology is cost competitive, and suspect past nuclear cost overruns were partly due to political interference paid for by big oil or coal interests.


I can't understand this new trend in the nuclear industry to put huge nuclear plants on ships.
These things sink, for a multitude of reasons. And once they are sunk, it's really hard to rescue the remains. All existing sunk nuclear reactors are rotting away on the deep (fortunately those are small, unlike these new ones).

To top it, they want now to use molten salts. Molten salts explode in contact with water. Just one accident or attack (and we are in times of war, gentlemen) and we have an historic mess.

What's the problem with building these things on land, for Jesus sake?


Hi peskanov.

Have another look at the tech for molten salt, as I would be interested in whether your reservations still hold then.

They are hardly 'huge' as you have characterised them initially, but are small compared to current reactors, to enable their rapid series build.

Putting them on ships means that they can be not only built but deployed rapidly all over the world.

I am not sure where: ' Molten salts explode in contact with water. '
comes from, as to the contrary:

' 2. Basic characteristics of MSR safety'


' 2)The fuel and coolant salts are chemically inert, and no firing or explosive with air or water (as occurred in the Fukushima accident).'

Should an accident occur and the ship sink, they would be stationed in relatively shallow water close to the coast, and the fuel would be a solid mass, with the radioactive elements enclosed in it, nothing remotely approaching the near impossible task of locating and raising nuclear subs, for instance.

As far as I can see, they would be many times as safe as oil and gas terminals, which most certainly in the latter case are explosive!

But I am of course several advanced degrees short of being a nuclear physicist, so your own assessment after you have reviewed the data would be most interesting.


Hi GdB

You had me going there for a minute, as I thought I might have missed something in the article referring to synergies with lithium extraction from salts!

But I see it was your own thought, not in the paper.

Where the salts are in relation to the projected landfill would presumably be of some importance to the economics, dunno how the location for lithium extraction fits, but it may be an option to reduce cost.


I have heard about the molten salt "movement" for a few years. I think it's benefits are overblown, compared to more conservative breeder reactors like CANDU, but I don't have major problems with the technology anyway. But not over water, please.

I have checked you link, but I don't think it's very convincing. Molten salt accidents have been common, as these liquids are a bit difficult to tame (corrosive). I reckon these are not as dangerous as NaK, which will catch fire under contact with air.
However I have seen a video of what happens when you throw molten salt to water, and it's very similar to throwing hot slag. A very destructive steam explosion ensues. And if you check out molten slag accidents on water, you will see these are not a joke.

Also, we are talking a liquid which carries the nuclear fuel embedded (unlike common reactors; fuel is solid and contained). An explosion of the full coolant circuit would mean all the active nuclear fuel would become airborne.

The size of the reactor is quite big; they are talking a minimum of 200 MWe, which probably means >500 MWt. Much bigger than nuclear submarine or icebreakers reactors.
The size (200 MWe-800 MWe) is close to land based commercial reactors.

Imho, this is a braindead aproach and the best way to produce and accident that would kill nuclear energy for another decade.
Nuclear reactors belong to land.


Hi peskanov:

Thanks for your comment, as I was not aware of the issue.
Perhaps you would share links to the articles on which you base your assessment, as what I have turned up by googling seems very conflicted?

Here is one, which demonstrates the powerful reaction which you state, but seems to think that it only applies to some salts:

' But why don’t the other molten salts he tests explode? Sodium carbonate, the third salt he tests, has a melting point of 851 degrees Celsius, 50 degrees hotter than sodium chloride. Yet for that test, the Leidenfrost effect prevents any contact between the two liquids.'

And here, they seem to think it does not happen in the salts used:

' No chemical reactivity with air or water — The fuel salt is generally not violently reactive with the environment. So where LWRs have hydrogen explosions and SFRs have sodium fires, MSRs do well. Of course, MSR leaks are still serious because it’s not just coolant... it’s extremely radioactive fuel.'

So you have highlighted a potentially very significant issue, which certainly needs addressing.

With the information I have to hand however, I have no idea what the risks are, or even whether they apply to the designs being looks at.

I was aware of corrosion as a potential issue, but forgot about it! :-(

Any more insight?


no, I don't have any info about fluoride molten salts vs water reaction, sorry.

However, my understanding (which matches the article you linked) is that the usual molten salt/water reaction is not chemical in nature, but just of transference of heat. You get similar effects throwing molten metals into water.

The whatisnuclear web says "no chemical reactivity with air or water"; I can believe that, but I still don't know which kind of reaction we will get from the hundreds to thousands tons of fluoride molten salt with seawater. This is not chemical in nature, ok, but please somebody explain me how will this not produce an immense steam explosion.

I would like to see an study of what would be the possible consequences of a floating nuclear plant colliding with another big ship, or being thrown against the rocks by a big storm, of hit by a missile. Because these things happens. And it does not seem the latest generation of nuclear engineers care too much about these scenarios.


Well, its an interesting discussion, peskanov, I'll just address the little bit I have some info on, most of it is way above my head.

AFAIK, the idea is to build ships in shipyards, where they also have expertise in metalwork in general for much of the construction of the other bits (?)

With the reactor ( not fired up ) installed they then sail off to wherever the power is needed, and moor up, semi permanently in shallow, sheltered water.

So again AFAIK, most of the hazards you posit of being at sea with working reactors should not apply.

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