Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), Korean shipbuilding and offshore construction company Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) and Danish nuclear energy company Seaborg Technologies have set up a consortium to develop and commercialise floating NPPs (FNPPs) using compact molten salt reactors (CMSR). The power plants will be installed on barges to deliver from 200 MWe to 800 MWe, with the first project expected to be a 200MWe power barge. ‚Äč

The consortium aims to enable timely commercialisation and a scalable export of factory-produced CMSR-based floating NPPs 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 well-positioned to meet the growing demand for clean and reliable energy, a statement said.

In January, SHI received Approval in Principle from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) for a conceptual design of a Compact Molten Salt Reactor (CMSR) Power Barge using Seaborg technology. SHI signed a business agreement with Seaborg in January 2022 to develop a floating NPP and plans to commercialise it by 2028 after completing detailed design of all power generation facilities. In April 2022, SHI and Seaborg signed a partnership agreement to develop CMSR FNPPs, including development of hydrogen production plants and ammonia plants. The Power Barge, designed by SHI, can be equipped with 2-8 100MW CMSRs as required. .

According to Seaborg, in the CMSR the fuel is mixed into a molten fluoride salt which also acts as the coolant offering significant safety benefits. Should the fuel salt come into contact with the atmosphere, it will simply cool down and become “solid rock, containing all the radioactive material within itself”. The reactor “will operate at near-atmospheric pressures eliminating a wide range of accident scenarios”, Seaborg says. At the end of its 12-year fuel cycle, the fuel is returned to the supplier where short-lived fission products are separated and sent to storage. “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,” Seaborg notes. The remaining fuel salt will be mixed into new CMSR fuel at a fuel supply facility. Seaborg is also developing its own power barge “as a turn-key product, ready to be moored at an industrial harbour”, where a transmission cable will be connected from the barge to the electric grid on shore. According to Seaborg’s timeline, the first barge will be delivered in 2028, with serial production to begin in 2030.

"KHNP's active effort will be aimed at fostering a mutually beneficial partnership between Korea and Denmark, with a focus on cooperation in the next generation nuclear power project, for a safer and cleaner future." said KHNP CEO Jooho Whang. An FNPP “is a carbon-free energy solution, which efficiently responds to climate change issues and a next-generation technology supporting a floating hydrogen, ammonia plant the meets the vision of Samsung Heavy Industries." Noted SHI CEO Jintaek Jeong.

Navid Samandari, CEO of Seaborg Technologies said the consortium is unique for deploying nuclear power at scale. "We are proud to say we have partnered with the best for construction and operations as part of our shared mission to develop and deploy the power barges."

Image: Representatives from KHNP, SHI and Seaborg at the consortium agreement signing ceremony (courtesy of Seaborg)