Mikal Boe has spent 30 years in and around the commercial shipping industry. Several years ago, he began wondering how his industry was going to meet the increasingly stringent rules for air pollution and CO2 production that were being implemented by governing regulators, especially the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
His extensive technical research led him to recognize that nuclear energy was the only available technology that could supply the power and energy requirements for competitive ships and also meet ever tightening regulations on their emissions.
But he also recognized that moving from the established technology of efficient, rugged, well-proven diesel engines was going to take time and would only happen if founded on solid groundwork. Included in that evaluation was an understanding of the need for open, honest, and inclusive conversations with a wide range of stakeholders.
Founded in 2018, Core Power is focused on commercializing nuclear energy products that customers want to buy because they are the best available solution to their needs. Cost plays a role, but so does capability, acceptability, environmental footprint, and longevity. Core Power’s leaders have determined that the technology that is best positioned to meet the needs of their target market is the molten chloride fast reactor.
In partnership with TerraPower as the technical lead and Southern Company as an experienced owner/operator, Core Power is participating in the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor project.
Under a Risk Reduction grant in the US DOE’s Advanced Demonstration Reactor Program (ADRP), the team will be developing and constructing a Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) a zero or low power reactor using the materials and salt mixtures that will be used in full scale products.
On this episode, Mikal Boe explains how he and his team made their choices and how they plan to take a step by step approach to achieving their goal of giving the commercial shipping industry a viable, competitive nuclear propulsion option.
When you listen, you will hear Mikal describing what might initially appear to be a counterintuitive initial step in the process of demonstrating and refining ships using nuclear propulsion to its full advantage.
One aspect of their plan must be emphasized – it involves a dramatic change in the current model of crewing, building, and maintaining ocean going vessels. Even though their overall costs will win many competitive battles, the accounts that make up those costs will be substantially shifted and prioritized.
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Disclosure: Nucleation Capital –where I am a managing partner – is so enthused about Core Power’s prospects for success that we joined their recent fundraising round as the only participating venture capital fund. (There were several larger investors that are not venture capital funds.)