Container Ship Modules for Nuclear Merchant Navy and Broader Legoizing of Civilization

The previous article on nuclear power for container ships discussed military and resilience advantages for a nuclear merchant fleet. There were examples of several merchant aircraft carrier conversions in world war 2. This was after previous discussions of economic and environmental advantages.

Please read the prior article to understand why this article is talking about fast conversion of a container ship. Yes, functionaling shipping containers does not depend upon having a nuclear powered container ship as a basis but the ideas are complimentary.
– China’s Cosco is investigating making nuclear powered container ships
– I think the military dual purpose makes it more likely that China will proceed
– Bunker fuel is extremely dirty

Really Big Legos for Modular Ships and Facilities

Data centers in shipping containers are common and are used by IBM, Google, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems. This shows that highly complex systems and functions can be containerized. Datacenter modules, radar and sensor modules, living quarters, UAV support and flight deck operations, power distribution, missile launching, etc…

Having standardized power and communication interfaces between containers would allow highly customizable functions for ships.

The Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactor is made out of about 300 modules. The modules are not as standardized as shipping containers but the modelling software and methodology could be adapted to creating modular ships and modular facilities of other kinds.

The ideal would be to assemble the components of a military ship conversion of a nuclear container ship as easily and quickly as loading freight containers. This would also enable the capability for rapidly assembling bases by unloading a container ship.

Sun Microsystems shipping container data center details

There were 17.8 million shipping containers in the world fleet in 2008

Container shipping and the US Economy Containers reduced the cost of shipping freight.

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

Cargo handling costs have dropped over 90% with the advent of shipping containers.

Air Pollution

Britain and other European governments have been accused of underestimating the health risks from shipping pollution following research which shows that one giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50m cars.

Confidential data from maritime industry insiders based on engine size and the quality of fuel typically used by ships and cars shows that just 15 of the world’s biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world’s 760m cars. Low-grade ship bunker fuel (or fuel oil) has up to 2,000 times the sulphur content of diesel fuel used in US and European automobiles.

Pressure is mounting on the UN’s International Maritime Organisation and the EU to tighten laws governing ship emissions following the decision by the US government last week to impose a strict 230-mile buffer zone along the entire US coast, a move that is expected to be followed by Canada.

The setting up of a low emission shipping zone follows US academic research which showed that pollution from the world’s 90,000 cargo ships leads to 60,000 deaths a year in the US alone and costs up to $330bn per year in health costs from lung and heart diseases. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates the buffer zone, which could be in place by next year, will save more than 8,000 lives a year with new air quality standards cutting sulphur in fuel by 98%, particulate matter by 85% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%

The world’s biggest container ships have 109,000 horsepower engines which weigh 2,300 tons.

Each ship expects to operate 24hrs a day for about 280 days a year

There are 90,000 ocean-going cargo ships

Shipping is responsible for 18-30% of all the world’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution and 9% of the global sulphur oxide (SOx) pollution.

One large ship can generate about 5,000 tonnes of sulphur oxide (SOx) pollution in a year

70% of all ship emissions are within 400km of land.