Nuclear Production of Hydrogen

Fourth Information Exchange Meeting, Oakbrook, Illinois, USA , 14-16 April 2009

image of Nuclear Production of Hydrogen

Hydrogen has the potential to play an important role as a sustainable and environmentally acceptable energy carrier in the 21st century. This report describes the scientific and technical challenges associated with the production of hydrogen using heat and/or electricity from nuclear power plants, with special emphasis on recent developments in high-temperature electrolysis and the use of different chemical thermodynamic processes. Economics and market analysis as well as safety aspects of the nuclear production of hydrogen are also discussed.



Nuclear hydrogen using high temperature electrolysis and light water reactors for peak electricity production

Nuclear Energy Agency

In a carbon-dioxide-constrained world, the primary methods to produce electricity (nuclear, solar, wind and fossil fuels with carbon sequestration) have low operating costs and high capital costs. To minimise the cost of electricity, these plants must operate at maximum capacity; however, the electrical outputs do not match changing electricity demands with time. A system to produce intermediate and peak electricity is described that uses light water reactors (LWR) and high temperature electrolysis. At times of low electricity demand the LWR provides steam and electricity to a high temperature steam electrolysis system to produce hydrogen and oxygen that are stored. At times of high electricity demand, the reactor produces electricity for the electrical grid. Additional peak electricity is produced by combining the hydrogen and oxygen by operating the high temperature electrolysis units in reverse as fuel cells or using an oxy-hydrogen steam cycle. The storage and use of hydrogen and oxygen for intermediate and peak power production reduces the capital cost, increases the efficiency of the peak power production systems, and enables nuclear energy to be used to meet daily, weekly and seasonal changes in electrical demand. The economic viability is based on the higher electricity prices paid for peak-load electricity.


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