Recent Changes - Search:




edit SideBar

Nuclear Hydrogen Production

In principal all methods of hydrogen production, apart from the photolytical ones, can be coupled with a nuclear reactor to provide electricity and process heat, respectively. While conventional light-water reactor can be readily employed to deliver electricity for the electrolysis process (however, at a very low total efficiency), high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGR) with their helium coolant outlet temperature of up to 950°C would allow the direct utilization of the hot gas which transfers its heat to the chemical process. Nuclear reactor and hydrogen plant will be separated from each other by employing an intermediate heat exchanger (IHX) between the primary helium circuit of the reactor and H2 production system. The intermediate circuit serves the safety related purpose of preventing primary coolant to flow through the (conventionally designed) hydrogen production plant and, on the other hand, product gas to access the nuclear reactor building.

The steam-methane reforming process as the most widely applied H2 production method was subjected to a long-term R&D program in Germany with the goal to utilize HTGR process heat required as energy input for the methane splitting. The necessary heat exchanger components (IHX, reformer, steam generator), with respect to their dimensions of the 125 MW(th) power class, were successfully tested in terms of reliability and availability in a 10 MW test loop over 18,400 h. The steam reforming of methane was investigated in the EVA test facilities under nuclear conditions with dimensions typical for industrial plants. Also EVA’s counterpart, ADAM, a facility for the re-methanation of the synthesis gas generated in EVA, was constructed and operated, demonstrating successfully the closed-cycle energy transportation system based on H2 as the energy vector. A corresponding experimental program on nuclear steam reforming was conducted and recently completed by JAERI, Japan. Nuclear coal gasification processes were investigated in the German long-term project PNP (prototype nuclear process heat), which has eventually resulted in the construction and operation of pilot plants for the gasification of brown coal (lignite) and stone coal, respectively, under nuclear conditions. Catalytic and non-catalytic steam-coal gasification of hard coal was verified in a 1.2 MW facility operated for about 23,000 h with a maximum throughput of 230 kg/h. The hydro-gasification process was realized in a 1.5 MW plant operated for about 27,000 h with a throughput of 320 kg/h of lignite.

For future large-scale H2 production, nuclear reactors of the next (forth) generation are expected to represent a safe, reliable, and economic primary energy source. The Generation IV International Forum“ (GIF) is a joint initiative by several countries including the EURATOM to develop such a nuclear H2 production system by 2030. One of the most promising “Gen-IV” concepts is the VHTR (Very High Temperature Reactor) with its characteristic features of direct cycle gas turbine plant for high efficiency and a coolant outlet temperatures of 1000°C. Top candidate production method is the sulfur-iodine thermochemical cycle, considered presently as reference method by various countries. Most advanced in this respect is the Japanese JAEA which is planning to connect the S-I process to their HTTR (High-Temperature Engineering Test Reactor) and demonstrate for the first time nuclear hydrogen production foreseen for 2010. The United States are currently designing a “Next Generation Nuclear Plant” (NGNP). This government-sponsored demo program is based on a 400-600 MW(th) full-scale prototype gas-cooled reactor to provide electricity and process heat at 900-1000°C. 100 MW are planned to be consumed for hydrogen production using the I-S process as reference method, alternatively high-temperature electrolysis. But also in China and Korea, ambitious programs have been started with the goal to bring nuclear hydrogen production to the energy market. The European Union does not have a dedicated nuclear hydrogen program. The respective engagement by research, industry, and policy is mainly given by the participation in activities within the Framework Programmes (FP) of the EU.

<< Large Scale vs. Small Scale and Centralized vs. Decentralized Production | Content | EU projects within Hydrogen production and distribution 2002 – 2006 >>

Edit - History - Print - Recent Changes - Search
Page last modified on December 19, 2008, at 10:23 AM