Nuclear hydrogen is promising, says US energy Loan Programs Office directorOctober 4, 2023
The carbon free electricity from these plants provides a low-cost way to make H2 with electrolysis.
Nuclear hydrogen has a considerable amount of potential as a component of the US energy transition, said the director of a US office in control of the distribution of billions of dollars in loans for new energy tech.
The promise comes from the use of low-cost electricity to power water electrolysis to make H2.
Nuclear reactors in the United States are continually operating because it is expensive to shut them down, and it causes wear on the plants to do so. While some of these facilities use the excess inexpensive electricity to pump water supplies to high elevations and then convert it back into electricity using hydropower technology when the water is released downhill once again, there are alternative opportunities for that excess affordable energy.
The pumped hydro – which is the name for that process – could be replaced by instead using the affordable electricity for nuclear hydrogen production by powering electrolyzers. The H2 could then be used for a spectrum of different applications, such as fueling cement or steel production plants or – one day – for a vehicle refueling infrastructure. In any case, it would help to slash carbon emissions and play a role in efforts to combat climate change.
Nuclear hydrogen is produced without releasing any carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
“The whole concept of nuclear and hydrogen is one that makes a lot of intellectual sense,” said Loan Programs Office (LPO) of the US Department of Energy director Jigar Shah.
According to Shah, these two forms of energy have a “very interesting marriage.”
Money is on its way
The LPO has given the nod to around $1.5 billion for two H2-based projects since December 2001. According to Shah, there are another $30 billion worth of US H2 projects reaching their advanced stage that may reach a decision for a final investment by the close of 2024. Moreover, there’s around another $5 billion to $8 billion in H2 projects being considered by LPO, said Shah.
Despite his enthusiasm, Shah did not specify exactly what types of nuclear hydrogen projects might be considered by the LPO.
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