And there’s another big problem with the plan for this overhyped 300-meter-long vessel and its global research: Earth 300, as the $700 million superyacht is called, will be powered by a molten salt nuclear reactor that doesn’t exist yet and won’t be certified for at least five years. The company’s website illustrates the reactor with a scale model of an experiment done in the 1960s at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
While they wait for a modular nuclear reactor that might never come, the developers of Earth 300 say they will use green synthetic fuels. These are liquid fuels derived from coal or natural gas in a process that captures carbon. However, they are much more expensive than fossil fuels. Aaron Olivera, the entrepreneur behind Earth 300, told CNN he plans to “eventually” retrofit the yacht with a reactor being developed by the UK company Core Power in collaboration with TerraPower, a US nuclear engineering firm chaired by Bill Gates.
And the customers Olivera would like to attract—the wealthiest people in the world—also tend to have the world’s largest carbon footprints, thanks in no small part to their habit of traveling aboard superyachts and private airplanes. According to calculations by two researchers at Indiana University, a superyacht with a permanent crew and helicopter pad is “by far the worst asset to own from an environmental standpoint.”Earth to CNN: No, a nuclear-powered superyacht won’t save the world – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists