The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has partnered with three electric utilities for a first-of-a-kind project to support innovations in the US nuclear industry through R&D and demonstration of commercial applications that pair carbon-free nuclear energy in a hybrid, nonelectric application to produce hydrogen.
FirstEnergy Solutions, Xcel Energy and Arizona Public Service (APS) represent the three utilities chosen alongside the INL by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy’s funding announcement.
“This first-of-a-kind project represents significant advances for improving the long-tern economic competitiveness of the light water reactor industry,” said Bruce Halbert, Director of DOE’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability Programme based at INL.
“They will enable the production of commodities such as hydrogen in addition to electricity from commercial nuclear power plants.
“This project also accelerates the transition to a national hydrogen economy by contributing to the use of hydrogen as a storage medium for production of electricity, as a zero-emitting transportation fuel, or as a replacement for industrial processes that currently use carbon-emitting sources in hydrogen production.”
The two-year project, led by FirstEnergy Solutions, will initially demonstrate and develop a 1- to 3-MWe low-temperature electrolysis unit to produce commercial quantities of hydrogen.
The first site, planned for 2020, is FirstEnergy Solution’s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station near Toledo, Ohio.
Hydrogen produced from Davis-Besse has the potential to supply public transport fleets in Ohio, showcasing how hydrogen produced from commercial nuclear operations can be used to produce ‘green’ products and commodities.
“We are pleased to have been selected for this project by the Department of Energy and look forward to exploring the economic viability of hydrogen generation at a nuclear power plant, and demonstrating the compatibility and synergy of the two technologies,” said Raymond Lieb, Senior Vice-President of Fleet Engineering for First Energy Solutions.
“This is a great opportunity to show that hydrogen can be effectively generated in a carbon-free and safe manner.”
Also commenting on the project, Tim O’Connor, Chief Nuclear Officer at Xcel Energy, said, “Projects like this hydrogen demonstration will ensure our nuclear plants continue to help Xcel Energy provide reliable, affordable carbon-free electricity for the Upper Midwest.”
“This project allows us to explore a new form of energy storage while continuing to provide customers what they want – clean, affordable and reliable electricity,” said Bob Bement, APS’ Executive Vice-President and Chief Nuclear Officer.