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Small Modular Nuclear Joins In on the Diversified Methods of Hydrogen Production
2021-01-13   |  Editor:et_editor  |  116 Numbers

The electrolyzed hydrogen production method through renewable energy is also known as green hydrogen, whereas hydrogen refined from natural gas is called grey hydrogen, so what is hydrogen paired with nuclear energy referred to as? NuScale Power has recently proposed a brand new solution for hydrogen production, and pointed out that its autonomous small modular nuclear reactor NPM (NuScale Power Module) is able to produce 50 tons of hydrogen fuel under high economic efficiency per day.

Hydrogen is one of the prominent alternative solutions for fossil fuel this year as not only has it been established for years, but it can also be extensively applied on power generation, as well as energy storage, including hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen heating, making it an essential character in the transition of energy.

Despite being the lightest and most abundant element in the natural world, hydrogen cannot be used directly as it has to be first separated from the combination of oxygen, carbon, and other atoms. 95% of the existing hydrogen energy comes from fossil fuel, and steam reforming allows the mixtures of steam and methane to be in contact with the nickel catalyst under high pressure in order to produce hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide.

The gases produced through steam reforming contain not only hydrogen, but also a bunch of other obnoxious derivatives, which do not conform to partial groups that request a “full” green approach, thus scientists and engineers are currently seeking for the corresponding solutions that are green hydrogen and blue hydrogen extracted from carbon capture. For instance, Royal Dutch Shell is planning for the largest offshore wind farm in Europe, the hydrogen project NortH2, and the University of Colorado also suggested the idea of using 5 units of 223m high concentrated solar towers that can produce 100 tons of hydrogen per day.

NuScale wishes to decompose hydrogen produced from water through the excess steam and power from nuclear energy by first heating the water to 300°C using the reactor, then elevating the temperature using the heated steam under 2% of power (roughly 1.8MW), before producing hydrogen through the high temperature electrolysis system. NuScale believes that this particular technology possesses relatively well cost competitiveness, which not only generates power, but also produces hydrogen according to various requirements, with insignificant degree of carbon emission. Each unit of NPM is expected to reduce 168K tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Although a concentrated solar farm is able to produce more hydrogen, NuScale is largely a modular design that can be expanded according to different needs, and a new research indicates that the capacity of a single unit module equals to approximately 250MW of heat energy or 77MW of power, where several reactors can be installed within the same area, which emphasizes the advantages in the development of power generation per unit area.

The Idaho National Laboratory also pointed out that the current power output of NPM has increased, and the production volume of decomposition hydrogen has also risen by 20%. Doctor José Reyes, CTO and founder of NuScale Power, commented that NPM is able to produce additional hydrogen using less floor space, and he hopes that NuScale will achieve a win-win situation in decarburization and an increase in economic sources.

 (Photo source: NuScale Power)