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November 15, 2010
Nuclear Townhall

Hyperion Power, the New Mexico designer of a 65-megawatt small modular reactor, has signed an agreement with Lloyd’s Register of Ships and Greek-owned Enterprises Shipping and Trade to try to develop a nuclear-powered, ocean-going commercial vessel

“We are enthusiastic about participating in the historic opportunity," said John R. ‘Grizz’ Deal, the CEO of Hyperion. “This is a truly groundbreaking effort.” 

"This a very exciting project," echoed Richard Sadler, CEO of Lloyd’s Register. "As society recognizes the limited choices that are available in a low carbon, oil-scarce economy we will see nuclear ships sooner than many currently anticipate." 

The agreement was signed this morning in the Athens offices of Enterprise Shipping and Trading. “We are extremely honored and proud to be part of this consortium at this historic event,” said Victor Restis, CEO of the Restis Group, which owns Enterprise. “We strongly believe that alternative power generation is the answer for the shipping transportation.” 

Nuclear engines have powered submarines for 50 years and aircraft carriers for the last 25. On the other hand, makers of commercial reactors have concentrated on large power plants. In the past decade, however, almost a dozen small companies around the world have started development of small modular reactors in the 25-to-150-megawatt range.

Because of the tremendous success of ocean-going military vessels, it seemed logical that someone would eventually propose using nuclear engines in commercial vessels as well. "Nuclear propulsion offers the opportunity for an emissions-free alternative to fossil fuel, while delivering ancillary benefits and security to the maritime industry," said Dr Phil Thompson, Sector Director for Transport of the BMT Group, a British company that is the fourth member of the consortium. "We look forward to providing a framework for the introduction of safe and reliable SMRs into the civilian maritime environment.” 

Hyperion, founded in 2005, is based on the work of Dr. Otis Peterson, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists who invented a small, 65-MW reactor in the lab. The Hyperion SMR is still the intellectual property of Los Alamos but Hyperion Power Generation, Inc. has a license to develop it commercially.

Grizz Deal, who was entrepreneur-in-residence at Los Alamos, has served as CEO since the founding. Hyperion has proposed using its 65-MW reactor as “building blocks” for flexibly built commercial power plants and for a variety of novel uses, such as purification of water, sewage treatment and powering remote mining and industrial facilities. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently met with Hyperion to discuss a licensing schedule. 

Lloyd’s Shipping Register  is not to be confused with Lloyd’s of London, the insurance giant, but draws its name from the same 18th century London coffeehouse where both were founded. Lloyd’s Register, in business for 250 years, is a maritime classification society and risk management organization that provides risk assessment, mitigation services and management systems certification. In the late 20th century, Lloyd’s Register diversified out of its tradition shipping interests and expanded into oil and gas and the nuclear and rail industries. 

Enterprise Shipping and Trading
  is one of Greece’s leading shipping firms, with 50 vessels, including reefers, container vessels, bulk carriers and tankers, in its fleet. The company is also involved in technical ship management services and new-building consultancy.           

BMT Nigel Gee, the other British participant, is a Southampton-based maritime architectural firm that has created designs for everything from yachts to naval craft to commercial vessels. 

The agreement provided ample evidence that American companies may still be able to participate in the breakout of nuclear development that is currently penetrating the globe. Although American companies have significant competition in baseload power plant technology, many people – including Secretary of Energy Steven Chu – believe that American enterprise and research ability may be able to create a market niche in smaller reactors.

“In addition to fitting the basic requirements for commercial naval propulsion,” said Grizz Deal, CEO of Hyperion, “the Hyperion Power Module may be able to set new standards for the use of nuclear power in maritime shipping.

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  1. David Says:

    Was there a slip in the report? You started out talking about 25MW and then finished talking about 65MW. Did Hyperion make a larger SMR than before?

  2. David Says:

    Was there a slip in the report? You started out talking about 25MW and then finished talking about 65MW. Did Hyperion make a larger SMR than before?