This site had examined a study of the economics of nuclear power for commercial shipping. The study showed that a nuclear ship would be $40 million per year cheaper to operate when bunker oil is at $500/ton.
Those studies had indicated improved economics when bunker fuel is over $300/ton. Bunker oil is currently about $375/ton.
Analysis of High-Speed Trans-Pacific Nuclear Containership Service
G. A. Sawyer, J. W. Shirley, J A. Stroud, E. Bartlett, General Management
Partners LLC, USA. C. B. McKesson, CCDoTT, USA.
35 knot ships that could hold more cargo could be built and operated more cheaply than regular oil powered ships. Initial costs are 6 times higher ($900 million versus 150 million.) Three nuclear ships could do the work of 4 regular ships and operational costs would be lower. The higher speed means the fast cargo niche could be addressed. A reasonable timeline is for nuclear commercial shipping in the 10-15 year timeframe.
A recent study conducted under the sponsorship of the Center for Commercial Deployment of Transportation Technologies (CCDOTT) examined the feasibility of a fleet of nuclear-powered 9,200-TEU containerships in a U.S. West Coast-Far East trade. The study, “Analysis of High-Speed Trans-Pacific Nuclear Containership Service,” conducted by George A. Sawyer and Joseph A. Stroud, General Management Partners, LLC, examined whether such nuclear-powered ships would be both technically feasible and economically competitive in such service. The study assumes that the timeline for the initial service would be 10 to 12 years in the future.
Sawyer, the former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy and a founding member of J.F. Lehman & Co., and Stan Wheatley, Manager, CCDOTT, recently spoke about the nuclear-powered boxship concept as part of a panel discussion at Marine Log’s Global Greenship in Washington, D.C.
the conceptual design for the 9,200-TEU nuclear-powered containership was based on the lines of the diesel-powered OOCL Shenzhen. The nuclear-powered concept vessel ended up being lengthened by 42 meters to 365m (1,198 ft) overall in order to better accommodate the increased powering required. The lengthening resulted in a 4 knot improvement in the speed at the design horsepower and, because of the total weight saved by omitting about 8,900 tons net of fuel, permitted the load-out of an additional 1000+ 40 foot containers.
The ship would be powered by an integrated nuclear and conventional propulsion and powering system consisting of a single Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) utilizing Rolls-Royce provided commercial technology suitably modified for the ship motions, accelerations and transients expected of a high speed maneuvering marine application.
The propulsion-powering system used in the study assumes an all-electric system consisting of an integrated mix of primary nuclear, auxiliary diesel, and emergency diesel or battery-powered generators all interconnected on a dual 4,160 volt bus. The propulsion motor concept used in the study is the permanent magnet motor currently under development and full-scale demonstration by the U.S. Navy. In an emergency situation, the flexibility of the propulsion system would allow the auxiliary diesels to drive the ship at 15 knots with the nuclear plant shut down. Propulsion power will be 273,000 shp.
The study envisioned a hypothetical nuclear-powered, 35-knot, three-ship express service making weekly calls between the Ports of Hong Kong and Long Beach/Los Angeles. This hypothetical service was compared with a four-ship 25-knot conventional service employing the same sized vessels using diesel technology.
The results of the comparison showed that under certain assumptions, the conceptual nuclear containership service would be economically viable with a crossover point compared to the diesel service at basic oil costs of about $89 per barrel. Last month, the price of a barrel of oil eclipsed $92.
The hypothetical weekly three-ship, high-speed nuclear ship express service (10 days on-dock to on-dock transit time) equates to a four-ship conventionally powered fleet of equivalent size and capacity transiting at 25 knots to the same ports (13.5 days on-dock to on-dock transit days).
At current conventional marine fuel prices and assuming that large ships will be required to burn low sulphur marine diesel within 40 miles of shore, the Net Present Value at 10% of the conventional fleet is $259 million while the NPV of the base case nuclear fleet is $10 million. This gap, says the study, is not too large to overcome, and after analyzing some of the largest variables, it projects that a long distance high-speed commercial nuclear service could well become viable in the foreseeable future–10 to 15 years.
Still, the initial investment to build the nuclear-powered ship would make many an owner weak-kneed. A single ship would cost $722 million, plus an initial $113 million for the reactor core. By comparison, the study puts the cost of the diesel-powered ship in the neighborhood of $150 million.
CCDoTT is a California State University, Long Beach sponsored, government approved and supported R&D center dealing with maritime-related transportation issues on behalf of both commercial and military interests.
Sample of some of the 157 CCDoTT projects to date:
In the area of Agile Ports and Terminal Systems:
Wrote the original High-Speed Sealift and Agile Ports Operational Concept Document for the U. S. Transportation Command. Starting point of Agile Port Systems approach.
The Agile Port Systems Demonstration is a multi-year project to demonstrate the increased efficiencies of APS for both military and commercial cargo movers.
Electric Cargo Container (ECCO) System is an outgrowth of our feasibility study to use Magnetic Levitation technology for a high speed (90mph), non-polluting container movement conveyor both within the port and to an inland port site.
In the High-Speed Ship area:
The CFD Design and Optimization Tool Development program adapts aerospace optimization approaches for maritime use. A multi-year effort, the tools are supporting design efforts for several high-speed multi-hull projects now ongoing.
CCDoTT has been involved with the concept development and initial design of several High-Speed Trimaran options. The latest is the Heavy Air Lift Seabasing Ship (HALSS), designed to accommodate the Heavy airlift support requirements of Seabasing.
The Axial Waterjet Concept and initial development as an enabler of future high-speed commercial and military ocean vehicles.
The HSS/AP logistics assessment of the prospective market for commercial high-speed ships operating in the Pacific trade routes.
East Coast Trailership Study to determine the ship design requirements for a specific known route, port pairing and operations.
In Rapid Deployment:
In conjunction with Agile Ports and Terminals, these efforts coordinate the military requirements and use of commercial infrastructure and processes to insure the timely flow of military forces and sustainment with minimal impact on the highly stressed commercial infrastructure critical to the economy.
Strategic Mobility 21 is a spin-off of CCDoTT APS and cargo movement efforts that adapts the components of the APS system in support of military requirements and combined with emerging technologies focused on a test and training Joint Power Projection Support Platform.
Pacific Coast Feasibility Study of Short Sea shipping for coastal and inland waterways.
In Command and Control:
TransViz is a real time collaborative visualization system developed under CCDoTT for USTRANSCOM in support of AT21. The included decision support tools moved directly from prototype to operational support of movements to Afghanistan dramatically speeding up force closure and sustainment operation and became a part of their system.
The Transportation Internet Portal system, ultimately incorporated by USTRANSCOM, connects military cargo movement planners with real time access to commercial cargo movement systems to exploit commercial space available
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