Illustration of Ulstein Thor and Ulstein Sif with an autonomous surface vehicle underway ()Source: Ulstein

Ulstein Thor clears path for zero-emissions cruising

A new vessel concept, unveiled by Norwegian ship designer and builder, Ulstein, could supply clean electricity for a new generation of battery-driven cruise vessels.

The 149m-long vessel, Ulstein Thor, equipped with a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor, would generate sufficient power to enable cruise ships, and other vessel types, to operate on a zero-emissions basis. Ulstein, which has built a series of expedition cruise ships for various owners, has focused initially on this sector. The company has also come up with the Ulstein Sif concept – a 100m-long Ice Class 1C vessel with capacity for 160 persons operating entirely on batteries and using Ulstein Thor to recharge while at sea.

Experts believe that this radical new concept could be applied in commercial shipping sectors where fuel technology is holding back the drive to decarbonise. The battery charging technology could make the concept of electrical ships a reality.

Jan Emblemsvåg, Professor at Norwegian University of Science and Technology and an expert in Thorium and nuclear power generation, commented: “Molten Salt Reactors have enormous potential for enabling clean shipping. There is so much uncertainty over future fuels, but here we have an abundant energy source that, with the right approach, can be safe, much more efficient, cheaper, with a smaller environmental footprint than any existing alternative. “From my perspective,” he declared, “I see this as the most viable, and potentially the only credible, solution for a zero-emission fleet that can operate under commercial terms and cost levels. The Thor concept is exactly the kind of innovation we need for sustainable success at sea.”

Article Editorial staff Ship&Offshore
Article Editorial staff Ship&Offshore