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US, South Korea to Partner on Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative

Yonhap. The US and South Korea will work together to develop a next-generation nuclear reactor that will also produce large quantities of hydrogen according to officials from the S. Korean Ministry of Science and Economy.

The announcement comes less than a week after the South Korea government signed off on an ambitious plan for the country to become a functioning hydrogen economy by 2040, with more than half of all cars to operate on fuel cells by the target date. (Earlier post.)

The ministry said the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute and Doosan Heavy Industry and Construction Co. are pushing to set up a joint nuclear hydrogen research center in cooperation with General Atomics, a US-based nuclear technology company.

“The project is part of an ongoing effort by the government to join a multinational effort to build a fourth-generation nuclear power system that makes use of the so-called very high temperature gas cooled reactor,” a ministry official said.

The Very High Temperature Reactor is the current basis of the US research program to develop a cost-effective nuclear system that will directly produce hydrogen as well as electricity. (Earlier post)

General Atomics is the only company in the United States that has been working on the new reactor system since the 1970s and is an integral member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s nuclear hydrogen initiative and the next-generation nuclear plant.

A memorandum of understanding is expected to be signed in the next few months, with research centers being built in General Atomics main office in San Diego and at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute in Daejeon, about 164 kilometers south of Seoul.

The US and South Korea are both members of the 11-country Generation IV International Forum (GIF). In February, the US signed a multilateral cooperative research and development agreement aimed at next-generation nuclear energy systems with Canada, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Other members of GIF are Argentina, Brazil, the European Union, South Africa and Switzerland. (Earlier post.)


richard schumacher

This is a welcome development, not because hydrogen gas is likely to be used as fuel but because it is an excellent feedstock for producing synthetic liquid hydrocarbon fuel. The remaining part of the technical puzzle to be solved is the economical use of atmospheric CO2 to provide the carbon for synthetic fuel.


This is as I expected.. and its very good news because of course the high temp method is very energy eff.


Can CO2 be electrolyzed like H2O?


Yes. A number of researchers are exploring variants of that for oxygen production as part of investigating the exploration of Mars.

More to our current needs, the basic reaction of the electrolysis of carbon dioxide and steam is:

CO2 + H2O --> H2 + CO + 3/2 O2

The resulting syngas (H2+ CO) can react to form methane.


High Temperature Electroylsis of Steam and Carbon Dioxide


What you have described is just another way to make syngas. What I asked was can pure CO2 (no steam) be electrolyzed. I suspect that it can with O2 drawn to one electrode and solid carbon (graphite) accumulating on the other. Sell the O2 and bury the graphite. Of course the process would only use non carbon energy source such as wind or solar too far from population centers for economical use.


Right. CO2 solid oxide electrolysis. Been under investigation for in-situ production of oxygen on Mars. (SAE paper from 1995 gives a quick theoretical overview, but I’ve seen references go back to papers in 1969...all aerospace-related.)

Products are O2 and CO.

Fraunhofer has been doing work on regenerative SOFCs for CO2 electrolysis. (Burning carbon buildup off the anode.

And I’m sure there’s a lot more from NASA and ESA studies related to In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) on Mars.

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