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Nuclear Production of Hydrogen

Second Information Exchange Meeting -- Argonne, Illinois, USA 2-3 October 2003

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Critical Paths to the Post-petroleum Age

Nuclear Energy Agency

World petroleum production cannot be sustained, and will begin to decline during the next ten to fifteen years. Petroleum represents 39% of US primary energy and 97% of its transportation energy. Hundred year time profiles for per capita supply were calculated for 108 possible combinations of peak production rates, peak years, field depletion rates, and population growth. An optimistic subset of assumptions produced per capita supply reductions of 17% and 45% in 2025 and 2050, respectively; a median subset increased those reductions to 31% and 64%. The energy capacity required for replacement of petroleum-based transportation energy is 312 GWe. 515 GWe would be required for hydrogen production, distribution, storage, and transfer. It could be produced by 515 1 000-MW nuclear reactors or 1.72 million 1-MW wind turbines. Subsequent replacement of natural gas would increase total energy demand to 798 GWe. Hydrogen storage as either a pressurised gas, liquid at 20K, or metallic hydride is technically feasible; however, all three pose significant practical difficulties...

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