The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced plans to invest up to $3.5m for hydrogen (H2) production research and development (R&D) that is compatible with nuclear energy sources.

Many utilities are now economically incentivised to consider integrating nuclear energy production with other industrial processes to optimise thermal and electrical energy production.

Using electricity and heat generated at nuclear energy facilities to produce H2 via extremely efficient high temperature electrolysis (HTE) is one promising integration approach for generating low cost H2. Through utilisation of the high temperature heat generated by nuclear energy plants, less electricity is required for the HTE process; thermal energy is generally less expensive than electrical energy. 

Through the selection of these projects, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office will advance HTE H2 production R&D with the potential to offer baseload nuclear plants an additional revenue stream. This is one example of how DOE’s innovative early stage H2 R&D can enable affordable and reliable energy that enhances economic growth and energy security.

“Today we are producing affordable energy from a wider range of sources than we ever thought possible,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons. “Renewables, nuclear, and fossil energy are part of America’s energy mix, as we remain committed to a comprehensive energy strategy to ensure we are utilising all of our abundant, American energy resources.”

FuelCell Energy, based in Danbury, Connecticut, will receive $1.5m for materials R&D aimed at reducing the operating temperature of solid-oxide HTE to levels more compatible with advanced nuclear energy heat sources.

Saint Gobain of Northboro, Massachusetts, will receive up to $1m to adapt its novel all-ceramic stack technology to HTE with a focus on addressing fundamental durability challenges.

West Virginia University will receive up to $1m to develop new HTE materials capable of durable and efficient operation at temperatures compatible with nuclear energy heat sources.