Norway – Ulstein has launched ‘ULSTEIN THOR’ – a 149m 3R (Replenishment, Research, and Rescue) design that will include a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) that will generate massive amounts of clean electricity.
The MSR allows the ship to function as a mobile power/charging station for a new generation of battery-powered cruise ships.
The vessel concept has the potential to turn the dream of zero-emission cruise operations into a reality. Ulstein believes that the concept, dubbed Thor, could be the missing piece of the zero-emission puzzle for a variety of maritime and ocean industry applications. Ulstein has also developed the ULSTEIN SIF concept, a 100m long, 160 POB capacity, zero-emission expedition cruise ship, to demonstrate its feasibility. This Ice Class 1C vessel will be powered by next-generation batteries and recharged at sea using Thor.
Thorium has been identified as having enormous potential for the maritime industry in search of environmentally friendly alternative fuels.
MSRs work by dissolving Thorium – a plentiful, naturally occurring metal with low radioactivity – in liquid salt, making them safe, efficient, and operationally proven. The salt is heated as a result of the chain reaction, which produces steam, which is used to power a turbine and generate electricity. Although the potential for delivering clean maritime power has been well documented on land, it has yet to be incorporated into a vessel design.
The charging capacity of the Thor has been scaled to meet the power requirements of four expedition cruise ships at the same time. Thor would never require refueling. As a result, Thor is meant to serve as a blueprint for completely self-contained ships in the future.