BHP Explores Nuclear Propulsion for Merchant Shipping

Australian mining giant BHP is delving into the potential of onboard nuclear propulsion, aligning with its decarbonization goals. Partnering with ULC-Energy, BHP's study explores the regulatory, technical, and operational aspects of nuclear-powered shipping. While challenges exist, BHP's expertise in bulk shipping and uranium production make it a natural leader in the nuclear marine solutions discussion.
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Australian mining company BHP is looking into using nuclear propulsion for merchant shipping, joining other well-funded investors in exploring the technology’s potential. BHP, a major player in bulk shipping with ambitious decarbonization goals, has hired ULC-Energy to study various nuclear technologies for powering vessels. The study covers regulatory, political, and commercial aspects, including port access, licensing, costs, and crew training.

While nuclear propulsion offers advantages like speed, range, reliability, and low emissions, implementing it would require significant changes. New regulations, operational adjustments, and technical solutions would be needed for full-scale adoption. Cooperation among stakeholders would be crucial for making civil nuclear marine solutions feasible, according to ULC-Energy’s CEO Dirk Rabelink.

BHP’s interest in nuclear propulsion aligns with its shipping operations and sustainability goals. As a major charterer of bulk carriers, shipping contributes to its emissions, making nuclear power an attractive option. BHP’s involvement in uranium mining and support for nuclear power on land further highlight its commitment to exploring nuclear solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Australia.

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