Nuclear energy startup Newcleo has signed an agreement with Fincantieri and RINA to support a feasibility study for nuclear applications to the shipping industry.

The study includes Newcleo’s lead-cooled small modular reactors technology and deployment of their Lead-cooled Fast Reactor (LFR).

Implementing the LFR for naval propulsion features a closed micro reactor being installed on vessels as a small nuclear battery with a 30MW electric output.

This would need occasional refuelling, roughly once every 10-15 years, little maintenance and simple replacement at the end of life.

Newcleo chairman and CEO Stefano Buono emphasised the company’s excitement for the results of the study and the next steps in the project: “I am delighted that we are launching a project for civil nuclear naval propulsion with this important feasibility study.

Fincantieri and RINA are two global leaders in the shipping sector and combining their expertise with our technology innovation can bring a real solution to the issue of carbon emissions in maritime transport.

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“From our conception, Newcleo’s ambition is to contribute to accelerating decarbonisation and providing clean, sustainable and affordable energy to meet the needs of communities and businesses.”

According to Fincantieri, it is up to the actions of the industry’s major players who have the potential to shape trends and markets.

Using clean nuclear energy to power marine vessels would aid in the rapid decarbonisation of a sector hampered by excessive fossil fuel usage and carbon emissions.

Fincantieri CEO and general manager Pierroberto Folgiero highlighted how this agreement puts the companies in the right direction for achieving the maritime industry’s decarbonisation goals: “Today Fincantieri reaffirms its vocation to be a pioneer and catalyst for progress in the maritime sector with cutting-edge, efficient and sustainable technologies.

“Nuclear power holds enormous potential and, as such, it needs the best expertise to be expressed, and we are proud to join with partners like Newcleo and Rina to help get this done.”

Furthermore, the use of nuclear power aboard vessels would protect the marine habitat in the case of an accident.

Due to the shielding qualities of lead, the liquid lead inside the reactor would solidify as it cooled in contact with the cold water, surrounding the reactor core in a solid shell and confining all radiation.