Use of nuclear fuel of ship propulsion is recent evolution. The application of nuclear fuel in marine industry is helping to combat the danger of fuel shortage. Earlier, fossil fuel was the source of energy in marine sector. However, danger of exhaustion of fossil fuel resulted in the switch. Nuclear marine propulsion is the terms coined for application of nuclear fuel in marine sector.

A nuclear reaction is carried out with the help of nuclear reactor under controlled conditions. The reaction produces massive energy, which indirectly helps in cruising ship. The energy produced is used to heat water and produce steam. The steam generated helps in ship propulsion. Nuclear energy generated from nuclear reactions per unit weight are way too high when compared to other fuels.

Till now, application of nuclear fuel is limited to navy and armed forces. Nuclear ships such as submarines can survive underwater, as efficiency of nuclear fuel is quite high. This factor aids combative force to be more efficient.

 Considering competence of nuclear fuel, efforts have been made to bring its use in domestic and commercial ship. This, in turn, will project the growth of nuclear fuel market. Also, higher power to weight ratio implies that nuclear ships have better weight carrying capacity when compared to conventional ships. As a result, the ship can carry heavier load over long distance.

In addition, nuclear fuel in ships combat the air pollution issue. Production of undesirable smoke and undesirable pollutants can be mitigated.

On the other, immense energy produced by nuclear reactor, if not controlled properly can result to nuclear accidents. This accident can cause damage to human population and marine life, both. The result of even small technical issue will be proportionally large. This factor is restraining the growth of nuclear fuel market.

This is a major concern to be addressed before nuclear fuel is used for commercial and domestic purpose.


The marine industry is experiencing a massive rise in demand in its various services – from carrying goods to carrying people and everything in between. One of the reasons behind this is the cost efficient means that it has proven to be in terms of shipping of goods. And, this will only be propelled further as the world sees a rise in population

And, this in turn will help the nuclear fuel market chart a steady CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) over the period 2016 to 2024. That would translate to rise in growth opportunities, which players scurry to make the most of. It will also improve the market worth.

Some of the factors that will help the global nuclear fuel market grow over the forecast period are mentioned below:

  • The population will increase by 2 billion over the next 30 years. By 2050, it will be 9.7 billion. And, the rate at which economies are performing, and thereby improving income levels and thus, standard of living, needs for shipping will only rise. As this would translate to more imports and exports and thus rise in need for nuclear fuel for marine propulsion systems. Besides, cruise and other such trips will also gain traction among population that is witnessing increase eon spending capacity, coupled with rise in travel frenzy and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
  • Environmental concerns relating to burning conventional fuel are rising rapidly. And, demand for alternate, clean fuel is gaining steam. Here, nuclear fuel gets advantage as it is uninterrupted, clean and not damaging the environment like fossil fuels do. Besides, the availability is not dependent on earth’s pace, which is a major plus of nuclear fuels and would thus contribute to growth of nuclear fuel market for marine propulsion systems.

Nuclear Fuel Market for Marine Propulsion Systems: Overview

Marine industry is anticipated to grow during the forecast period as it is one of the largest means of transportation. This will increase the consumption of marine fuels. Combustible fuel is the primary means of powering a shop across the globe. However, harmful effects of unburnt fuel and air pollution are concerning factors for maritime. This is expected to increase the demand for nuclear fuel for marine propulsion systems.

Maritime transport accounts for approximately 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and this is a major contributor to contamination close to ports and coastal areas, many researching organizations have been conducting research on alternative fuel for ships. Nuclear propulsion is proved to be a more efficient compared to other alternative fuels to combat the reliance on combustible fuel.

Nuclear Fuel Market for Marine Propulsion Systems: Key Growth Enablers

Nuclear fuel for marine propulsion systems is becoming increasingly popular due to its negligible emission through nuclear propulsion. Factors such as installation, maintenance, safety concerns for the crew and disposal cost were obstructing the use of nuclear as a fuel for marine propulsion system, however these hurdles are slowly being overshadowed, as more funds are being invested by many countries for marine industry worldwide. The nuclear reactor produces heat on the ship, which is used to generate steam that is used to power turbines. 

Nuclear fuel can be used in two ways for propulsion such as in combination with conventional marine fuels and an only fuel on the tanker. The percentage of conventional fuel substituted with nuclear fuel will have a direct impact on the vessel’s emissions including greenhouse gases. For marine propulsion nuclear fuel can be of different type depending on the fusion capability such as thorium, uranium and plutonium.

Nuclear Fuel Market for Marine Propulsion Systems: Segmentation

The global nuclear fuel market for marine propulsion systems can be segmented on the basis of different types of propulsion used on ships and vessels that need to be self supporting for extended periods without refueling such as ultra large crude carriers (ULCC) and very large crude carriers (VLCC). The U.S. was the pioneers of nuclear fuel as marine propulsion in 1940 and after the success of the research; first nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus began its voyage in 1955. Later on this technology was similarly implemented for cargo and other vessels. Britain, France and Germany in Europe are spending on R&D to use nuclear fuel for marine propulsion systems. China has also initiated research on the use of nuclear energy for marine propulsion. The Russian fleet known as ice-breaker is one example, where nuclear power is fully adapted operating in the northern sea route.

Environmental concerns, stringent emission norms, availability of fossil fuels, cost of conventional fuels and energy security are some of the factors driving the global nuclear fuel market for marine propulsion systems. Some of the regions that are likely to provide lucrative opportunity for nuclear fuel for marine propulsion systems includes North Sea, the Baltic, Sea of Marmara, Hong Kong, parts of the coastline of Guangdong in China and a zone extending 200 nautical miles from the coastline of North America due to stringent emission norms.

Some of the key players for nuclear propulsion retrofitting and new installation are China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, General Electric and Babcock International Corporation.

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Nuclear Fuel Market

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