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Summary of Working Paper No. 73-1996

III.07.6: The Potential of the NSR with a Nuclear Icebreaking Container Ship

By Tomoji Takamasa, Koichi Kondo and Shogo Hayashi, Tokyo University of Mercantile Marine, Japan; Kunio Miyashita, Kobe University, Japan; and Izuo Aya, Ship Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan

Trade between Europe and the Far East using nuclear container ships is feasible in the near future. In terms of existing Russian nuclear icebreakers and cargo ships, the nuclear vessels have an advantage over conventional NSR ships with respect to the energy supply problem, i.e., the balance of loading fuel and its power output, -- or in other words, the energy intensity. This advantage may broaden the NSR utility period on the basis of its economic potential. Shipping expenses and the requirements of shippers will also justify the extension of the NSR season. Our study is a comparison of the operating and voyage expenses of a model nuclear container ship and conventional diesel ships. A nuclear icebreaking container ship is now being designed by the Shipbuilding Research Association of Japan. Research and development of an advanced marine reactor (Marine Reactor X: MRX) for an icebreaker, which may possibly be installed in the near future, has been done by the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI). The MRX employs an integral pressurized water reactor (PWR), an in-vessel type control rod driving mechanism, a water-filled containment vessel, and a passive decay heat removal system that uses natural circulation. As a result, drastic improvements in safety and dramatic reductions in size and weight have been achieved. A cost comparison between the model nuclear icebreaking container ship and conventional diesel ships has been made that focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of the different transportation systems and the benefits and demerits for operators and shippers. Factors considered were the operating expenses and voyage expenses borne by operators, and the freight, premium, interest, storage expenses, and sales opportunity costs paid by shippers. Using the above factors, the economic potential of a nuclear ship as an NSR merchant ship was examined as follows :

I. comparison was made of the ship-operating and container shipping expenses of the model nuclear icebreaking container ship sailing through the NSR and similar expenses of the high-speed diesel container ships passing through the Suez Canal.

II. comparison was made of the ship-operating and container shipping expenses of the model nuclear icebreaking container ship and similar expenses of a conventional diesel ship, both sailing through the NSR.

III. study was conducted to determine the kinds of cargo that could be carried economically by using a nuclear icebreaking container ship sailing through the NSR.

Our study shows that transporting cargo with a nuclear icebreaking container ship sailing through the NSR is economically feasible in comparison to existing container shipping and air transport.