Korean shipbuilder joins maritime SMR project

South Korea’s HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering (KSOE) plans to develop a small modular reactor (SMR) for use in shipping in cooperation with the UK’s Core Power and the USA’s Southern Company and TerraPower.

The plans were announced following a joint research and technology exchange meeting in Washington, DC, between KSOE – a subsidiary of South Korea’s HD Hyundai – and TerraPower and Core Power. In November 2022, KSOE invested USD 30M in TerraPower.

The reactor to be jointly developed centres around TerraPower’s Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) design. The technology uses molten chloride salt as both reactor coolant and fuel, allowing for so-called fast spectrum operation which the company says makes the fission reaction more efficient. It operates at higher temperatures than conventional reactors, generating electricity more efficiently, and also offers the potential for process heat applications and thermal storage. An iteration of the MCFR – known as the m-MSR – intended for marine use is being developed by TerraPower.

KSOE plans to send an R&D team to TerraPower in March to continue cooperation with all the joint research companies from various fields including marine nuclear power plants and new nuclear applications. In addition, KSOE plans to join the establishment of a system for the application of marine reactors with the International Atomic Energy Agency and classification societies ABS and Lloyd’s Register.

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