China’s Jiangnan Shipyard hopes to build the world’s first vessel powered by new molten salt reactor (MSR) technology.

A prototype for a huge 24,000-teu nuclear-powered container ship was unveiled at the Marintec China exhibition this week.

Molten salt reactors are claimed by their developers to be safer and more efficient than uranium reactors used previously in warships.

The South China Morning Post has reported that China has been testing the first thorium-based MSR in the Gobi Desert.

Scientists involved in the project have said the smaller reactors are suitable for ships.

Many details of the project are classified, however, possibly due to its potential military use.

The container ship is known as KUN-24AP.

The design has been approved by Norwegian class society DNV.

“In response to climate change and energy conservation requirements, Jiangnan has actively explored container ship models and power systems solutions,” Maritime China reported.

“The new ship model uses nuclear energy as a clean energy source and adopts an internationally advanced fourth-generation molten salt reactor solution. The proposed design of super-large nuclear container ships will truly achieve ‘zero emissions’ during the operation cycle of this type of ship.”

Reports suggested the unveiling demonstrates China’s confidence in the viability of the concept.

Core Power of the UK is also working on using MSRs to generate power for shipping.