Energy

US DoE funds project turning nuclear power into green hydrogen

US DoE funds project turning n...
The Palo Verde Generating Station will get a US$20 million upgrade to produce and store hydrogen, and convert it back into electricity for grid backup power
The Palo Verde Generating Station will get a US$20 million upgrade to produce and store hydrogen, and convert it back into electricity for grid backup power
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The Palo Verde Generating Station will get a US$20 million upgrade to produce and store hydrogen, and convert it back into electricity for grid backup power
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The Palo Verde Generating Station will get a US$20 million upgrade to produce and store hydrogen, and convert it back into electricity for grid backup power

The US Department of Energy has committed US$20 million to an Arizona-based project that will use nuclear energy to create green hydrogen, testing its capability as a liquid backup battery and as a secondary product for nuclear power installations.

The project will be led by PNW Hydrogen LLC, and will build hydrogen production facilities on site at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Phoenix, Arizona. There will be storage tanks big enough for six tonnes of hydrogen onsite, representing about 200 MWh of energy that can be converted back into electricity and fed into the grid when demand is high.

The H2 will also be "used to make chemicals and other fuels," and the project will explore how nuclear stations can export and sell excess energy as an extra revenue stream. In a future renewables-based energy ecosystem, baseline power providers like nuclear stations will only be needed when the sun's not shining or the wind's not blowing, so hydrogen production could be a helpful way to use their downtime.

This is part of the DoE's "Hydrogen Shot" goal of reducing green H2 prices from around US$5/kg to US$1/kg within a decade. How is this goal aided by using expensive nuclear, rather than the much cheaper solar energy, to create hydrogen? Well, if using the hydrogen as a liquid grid battery is economically viable for the power stations, or even nearly viable, then the stream of excess hydrogen produced once the main tanks are full can be sold cheaply. This project will test the economics of the idea.

Source: US Department of Energy

6 comments
6 comments
WB
there is no such thing as green hydrogen! it's hydrogen and it makes no sense. Which part of nuclear is green!
yawood
Nuclear is far better than the fossil fuels. I can't believe that "greenies" can't see that nuclear is the answer to make solar and wind power viable and that hydrogen is a better energy storage than these huge batteries that are being used. Batteries not only use large amounts of natural resources to create but then, in turn, create huge environmental issues when they come to the end of their life. In a modern reactor, a tiny amount of reactor fuel will supplement the renewables energy for many, many years.
anthony88
Was wondering the same as WB. Does this meet the definition of green hydrogen. By the way, that reactor facility looks really cool. Like a '60s vision of the future.
paul314
For a prototype, a reliable power source with excess baseload capacity and plenty of extra land on site is likely what's needed. Work out the production side with minimal kinks, then transition to whatever source you want for larger scale.
jerryd
A waste. Much better, more efficient to store the heat than make, store H2 at 10% of the cost.
I think these gas cooled pebble bed reactors can be viable and we'll see if they are. It they are there are many uses for them at minimum danger as just tiny amounts of fuel well incased by 50x as much ceramic layers.
christopher
Would you like radiation with your hydrogen, sir? The U.S. track record in all things nuclear is nothing short of horrific: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pSqk-XV2QM