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 Post subject: Nuclear Ship Propulsion
PostPosted: Feb 09, 2010 8:27 pm 
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Could ships be retrofitted to run on nuclear? And if so, would they need to have new turbines?

The question arose in a discussion of the possible consequences for international trade of a large rise in oil prices.
I referenced this article on nuclear shipping:
http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/07/nuclea ... pping.html

The time to build new ships was then mentioned, and I suggested that it would be possible to retrofit.


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PostPosted: Feb 10, 2010 2:14 am 
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You need to follow Rod Adams. He has quite a bit on the subject.

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PostPosted: Feb 10, 2010 1:55 pm 
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Thanks. Have you got any actual links?


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PostPosted: Feb 10, 2010 4:39 pm 
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DaveMart wrote:
Thanks. Have you got any actual links?
atomicrod
http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com


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PostPosted: Feb 11, 2010 12:31 am 
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DaveMart wrote:
Thanks. Have you got any actual links?

Nuclear Energy and Commercial Ships

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PostPosted: Feb 11, 2010 7:25 am 
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It's probably possible to retrofit existing cargo ships to use nuclear power but it may not be the most economical choice.

Ship hull shape design is a complex tradeoff of cruising speed, fuel consumption and ability to sail in rough seas. A nuclear ship is not very sensitive to fuel consumption so its hull can be designed to be faster. It will deliver more paying cargo in a given time and may be able to command a premium for certain time sensitive deliveries. I won't be surprised if a full economic analysis reveals that a new ship with a new hull is a better investment than retrofitting.


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PostPosted: Feb 11, 2010 7:54 am 
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Owen T wrote:
It's probably possible to retrofit existing cargo ships to use nuclear power but it may not be the most economical choice.

Ship hull shape design is a complex tradeoff of cruising speed, fuel consumption and ability to sail in rough seas. A nuclear ship is not very sensitive to fuel consumption so its hull can be designed to be faster. It will deliver more paying cargo in a given time and may be able to command a premium for certain time sensitive deliveries. I won't be surprised if a full economic analysis reveals that a new ship with a new hull is a better investment than retrofitting.


That brings up an interesting point: (new) nuclear ships can go faster as they don't care much about fuel consumption, thus delivering more cargo in a year, which means more revenue and possible profit from premium (JIT) delivery. Of course that assumes that the capital investment (reactor cost) is reasonable...


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PostPosted: Feb 11, 2010 10:49 pm 
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A nuclear power plant can probably have a cruising power some ten times that of a fossil fuel power plant on a ship, and from what I remember that means it can go something like twice as fast as traditional cargo ships. This translates to being worth a little under twice a traditional cargo vessel (time in port isn't halved) plus the value add of time sensitive delivery, whatever that's worth.

So on average you have a ship that costs maybe 50% more and costs a bit more to operate that generates almost twice as much revenue. Its a good investment but its a gamble. I'd love to see it done on a test with cargo container ships plowing through the pacific at ridiculously high speeds.


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PostPosted: Feb 12, 2010 4:06 am 
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10x, sounds about right. Fuel consumption increment is roughly equivalent to the third power of the speed, so 2^3 = 8x. Could be that with advanced hull design it will even be a bit less. There's some good looking designs based on the shape of an axe (yes thats right).

Faster premium delivery has to be worth something also. It's like in the past, when steamboats found niche markets (like mail) due to their guaranteed swift delivery compared to sailboats...


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PostPosted: Feb 12, 2010 2:23 pm 
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Cyril R wrote:
Faster premium delivery has to be worth something also. It's like in the past, when steamboats found niche markets (like mail) due to their guaranteed swift delivery compared to sailboats...

Maybe. But if you're doing this on cargo container ships, that's a huge amount of cargo that usually doesn't care about speedy delivery. Maybe it would allow other markets to open that don't currently exist, perhaps dropping the price of blueberries in winter or something along those lines. As a business proposal I would have to assume the value add of speed alone is zero, and take in any unexpected profits as (if) they arrive.


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PostPosted: Feb 13, 2010 2:50 pm 
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High oil prices are likely to do a lot of damage to the air freight industry.
Obviously any delivery by ship would be far slower, but I wonder if at least a portion of this trade could survive using fast nuclear ships, perhaps hydrofoils.


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PostPosted: Feb 13, 2010 5:36 pm 
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dezakin wrote:
Cyril R wrote:
Faster premium delivery has to be worth something also. It's like in the past, when steamboats found niche markets (like mail) due to their guaranteed swift delivery compared to sailboats...

Maybe. But if you're doing this on cargo container ships, that's a huge amount of cargo that usually doesn't care about speedy delivery. Maybe it would allow other markets to open that don't currently exist, perhaps dropping the price of blueberries in winter or something along those lines. As a business proposal I would have to assume the value add of speed alone is zero, and take in any unexpected profits as (if) they arrive.


Perhaps the cargo doesn't care about speedy delivery, but it would enable a speedy ship to transport about twice as much. So, if a ship cost 50% more but could transport as much cargo as a ship twice as large, it should pay off. Perhaps it would also enable ships to escape from pirates.

Safety would be an important consideration, or at least the public's perception of safety. It would be necessary to ensure that little or no radioactivity would escape if the ship sank, and ships do sink.


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PostPosted: Feb 13, 2010 5:44 pm 
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Both air and water and underwater noise pollution would be greatly reduced too don't forget.

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PostPosted: Feb 13, 2010 5:53 pm 
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rmaltese wrote:
Both air and water and underwater noise pollution would be greatly reduced too don't forget.


Wouldn't that depend on what kind of power system is being replaced? If a Diesel system is being replaced, obviously noise would be reduced. But don't some ships still use steam turbines? If so, I don't see how replacing a fossil-fueled steam turbine system would reduce noise.

Propellers also generate noise and surely propellers driven with 10 times the power would be noisier.


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PostPosted: Feb 13, 2010 6:12 pm 
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Read more about it in one of Rod Adams sites.
http://www.atomicengines.com/ships.html

Quote:
Can cruise ships be powered with atomic engines?

Absolutely. Smooth running turbines and lack of stack gases make them ideal for passenger ships. No longer will passengers on deck have to worry about cinders on their clothes. There will be a big reduction in engine noise and vibration. The deck and interior space freed up by eliminating the stacks can be put to good use for casinos, dance floors and observation towers.


also http://www.nssavannah.net
Quote:
Economics of Nuclear Propulsion ...

The Savannah was a demonstration of the technical feasibility of nuclear propulsion for merchant ships and was not expected to be commercially competitive. She was designed to be visually impressive, looking more like a luxury yacht than a bulk cargo vessel, and was equipped with thirty air-conditioned staterooms (each with an individual bath), a dining facility for 100 passengers, a lounge that could double as a movie theater, a veranda, a swimming pool and a library. By many measures, the ship was a success. She performed well at sea, her safety record was impressive, her fuel economy was unsurpassed, and her gleaming white paint was never smudged by exhaust smoke. Even her cargo handling equipment was designed to look good.

From 1965 to 1971, the Maritime Administration leased Savannah to American Export-Isbrandtsen Lines for revenue cargo service. However, Savannah's cargo space was limited to 8,500 tons of freight in 652,000 cubic feet (18,000 m³). Many of her competitors could accommodate several times as much. Her streamlined hull made loading the forward holds laborious, which became a significant disadvantage as ports became more and more automated. Her crew was a third larger than comparable oil-fired ships and received special training after completing all training requirements for conventional maritime licenses. Her operating budget included the maintenance of a separate shore organization for negotiating her port visits and a personalized shipyard facility for completing any needed repairs. No ship with these disadvantages could hope to be commercially successful. Her passenger space was wasted while her cargo capacity was insufficient.

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JUST ONE LFTR PROTOTYPE WOULD BE A HUGE BOOST


Last edited by rmaltese on Feb 13, 2010 6:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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