The 2021 Energy Transition Outlook Technology Progress Report by Norwegian firm DNV includes a new concept for a fusion-powered container ship as a possible solution for decarbonizing maritime transportation.
The report describes the fusion-powered container vessel (FPCV) based on designs of existing vessels but with a fusion engine in a sealed space within the ship as the engine. The engine would be comprised of a fusion power plant that would drive an electric motor.
Adjacent to the fusion engine room, a steam plant comprising heat exchangers, steam turbines, and generators would be located. The larger engine room would slightly reduce capacity and there would be six electric motors at the rear engine room of the boat to drive two propellers.
For cost-benefit analysis of the FPCV, three fuel price scenarios were established to use with a reference case of a standard ship from the period of 2031 to 2050, with a 1% annual increase in fuel costs. Using this model, a projection was made for the cumulative total cost for a string of container vessels by trade route and showed that the FPCV offers lower cumulative costs than the reference cases after 5 years. Eventually, projections had FPCV saving about $1 billion after 15 years compared to current shipping.
The report concluded that “In summary, the fusion-powered container vessel offers potential for lower transport cost, faster service and zero emissions to air” and “[removed] business uncertainty due to fuel cost volatility”. As such, fusion technology stands to be a promising longer-term zero-carbon option for the future of global shipping.
The full report is available for download.