Crowley has teamed with nuclear component supplier BWX Technologies Inc. (BWXT) to develop a ship concept that has the potential to generate alternative, zero-carbon emission energy for defense and disaster needs by including a microreactor on board.
The agreement with BWXT's Advanced Technologies LLC subsidiary will allow both companies to jointly pursue and develop the design, engineering and development of new shallow-draft hull ships that will supply small-scale nuclear energy to shoreside locations. The new ships would feature the latest technology available for factory fabricated microreactors, readily deployed into a shipyard configuration for ease of installation on the vessel. The onboard power plant would supply energy to shore facilities, such as military bases in remote island locations, backup utility grids after disasters, and provide power in other scenarios where traditional electricity sources are damaged or not possible.
The new vessel concept envisions a 378' ship that pulls from the logistics and marine capabilities of Crowley, a longtime operator with in-house vessel design by its Crowley Engineering Services, and the nuclear capabilities of BWXT, a supplier of nuclear components, fuel and services to the U.S. government, the companies said.
“Our cooperation with BWXT will move Crowley for the first time into the nuclear energy sector, a key part of our commitment to sustainable, alternative energy sources,” Shiju Zacharia, senior vice president and general manager, Crowley Government Solutions, said in a statement. “This concept supports the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal of maintaining U.S. leadership in nuclear energy technology as well as many of the U.S. Department of Defense’s strategic goals for operational energy.”
The new vessel concept pairs traditional propulsion while carrying a modular reactor between five and 50 megawatts that can be activated upon arrival at the destination and deactivated and transported after the power supply is discontinued. Buoyed power delivery cables will enable the ships to deploy energy connections to shore. Shallow draft hulls allow the vessels to maneuver to strategically deliver power for military activities or if disasters limit harbor access.
“We are excited to work alongside Crowley to leverage our ongoing reactor development and demonstration programs, advancing nuclear technology into new and novel markets to deliver zero carbon emissions energy generation to strategic locations,” said Joe Miller, president of BWXT Advanced Technologies.