The ‘concept m-MSR’: generating ample, clean energy for ocean transportation

We believe decarbonisation of ocean transportation will happen in two stages:

First stage (2024-2028):

The existing fleet of  smaller ships (40,000+ units) converting to synthetic zero-carbon fuels, produced from terrestrial or floating manufacturing plants powered by m-MSRs;

Ships use current engine technology but switch to zero-carbon fuels to meet strict air-emission targets by 2030;

Second stage (2028 onward):

Next-generation new-building designs of the largest ships can run an m-MSRs as main electric energy source onboard. The m-MSR ‘atomic battery pack’ can power a large ship for life without refueling, with ZERO-EMISSIONS.

These will be larger, faster and cheaper ships creating a brand new competitive advantage for charterers.

The m-MSR represents the technology on which a new era for global shipping could be built.

By providing abundant m-MSR powered electric energy either to land based or floating production facilities of ammonia, hydrogen and methanol based fuels (the shipping industry will select the exact mix), we could start to provide a near-zero emission to low-emission solution to shipping  as early as the mid 2020s.

This is a vision of a sustainable energy system for shipping which enables us to continue to develop and modernise ocean transportation, taking us deep into the future, without polluting the environment.

Cheap fuel from the bottom of the barrel at oil refineries, has propelled the motorship to a point where low costs survive while the concept of investing in expensive, quality driven solutions does not.

That era is coming to an end and we are now being asked to switch from cheap and dirty fuels, to clean and sustainable propulsion.

What matters most is a substantial reduction in emissions, carbon or not, and to make that shift economically sustainable so we can move forward, not backwards.

Sustainability accounts for the Total Life Cycle of an asset. Not just emissions and economics under operation, but also what comes before and after.

Mining, smelting, industrial production, transport, maintenance, recovery, decommissioning and recycling. A full cycle of energy consumption and resource usage, without which the ‘asset’ could not exist.

When we look at the total life cycle of the building, running and scrapping of ships, we soon realise that it takes more than just ideology and good intentions to make a meaningful impact.

The EU, the US and other jurisdictions will gradually, but most certainly, start to impose pollution penalties, carbon taxes and emission levees on transport and industry, and when they do that, they will look at the total life cycle footprint of assets to measure how light or heavy such fines should be.

The reality is that the only viable technology which can deliver a durable combination of close-to-zero emissions, marine-level reliability, walk-away safety and competitive economics, is atomic energy.

The most effective way to make cheaper green synthetic fuels is therefore with atomic power, not ‘renewables, and especially not intermittent renewables.

With m-MSR power, floating production vessels could be positioned where fuel is needed. Making green fuels from air (Nitrogen) and water (Hydrogen) to create green ammonia (NH3) can be done in ports, substantially reducing the need for a trillion-dollar supply chain to be built around green fuels.

Such floating production units could produce to meet demand, and switch to production of fuels for urban transport and infrastructure when demand for green marine fuel is lower. Production vessels could, and should, be owned by professionally run private companies.