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What the United States is doing about nuclear hydrogen

The technology to produce hydrogen from nuclear power is very expensive and not yet effective. But the United States is investing in protest plans

Its S&P Global Ellie Potter Writes “Under the right conditions”, hydrogen can mark the “lifeline” for American nuclear reactors and prevent their early elimination.

Nuclear in the United States

Nuclear power currently provides more than half the clean electricity in the United States, but it is difficult for plants to compete with plants that generate energy at lower prices, for example from natural gas and renewable materials. Hydrogen derived from electricity generated by nuclear reactors may then come to the aid of power plant operators, who will not be forced to limit production when cheap energy becomes available.

The role of hydrogen

To date, most hydrogen in the United States is produced from natural gas. Nuclear power plants, on the other hand, make it possible to obtain clean hydrogen without emitting carbon dioxide or air pollutants. The technology to do this is expensive, but it could become economically feasible within the next decade or even the mid-2020s, depending on the results recorded by various demonstration programs across the United States.

Beyond the fact that the technology to produce hydrogen from nuclear power has not yet been proven effective, analysts say its large-scale success requires a favorable regulatory framework and investment incentive policy.

High temperature electrolysis

Potter writes that the process of obtaining hydrogen from nuclear energy, called high-temperature electrolysis, is generally more efficient than the conventional method of low-temperature electrolysis. However, the latter is more in development.

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What American companies do

However, the U.S. Department of Energy has provided millions of dollars through a public-private partnership to some energy service companies that want to build demonstration plants to produce hydrogen from nuclear reactors.

For example, Excel Energy is working with the Department of Energy to launch a demonstration program for hydrogen production through high temperature electrolysis. The company plans to produce completely clean electricity by 2050, and is developing new technologies that will allow it to decarbonize its new 20 percent energy mixture. Nuclear power can play a role in supporting renewable resources and achieving the goal.

According to Patrick Burke, vice president of Atomic Energy and Innovation, it will take some time, perhaps three to five years, to produce large amounts of green hydrogen from nuclear power.