DOE awarding up to $3.5M to 3 projects for nuclear-compatible high-temperature electrolysis for H2 production
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding up to $3.5 million to three hydrogen production research and development (R&D) projects that are compatible with nuclear energy sources.
DOE is focused on developing technologies that can produce hydrogen at a target of less than $4/kg (delivered and dispensed). Using electricity and heat generated at nuclear energy facilities to produce hydrogen via extremely efficient high temperature electrolysis (HTE) is one promising integration approach for generating low-cost hydrogen.
The technology of hydrogen production through conventional water electrolysis is well-established; high-temperature electrolysis (HTE) adds in some of the energy needed to split the water as heat instead of electricity (by using steam instead of liquid water), thus reducing the overall energy required.
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in the high temperature range of 800–1000 °C, electricity input could be about 35% lower than that of conventional electrolysis.
Through utilization of the high temperature heat generated by nuclear energy plants, less electricity is thus required for the HTE process; thermal energy is generally less expensive than electrical energy. Many utilities are now economically incentivized to consider integrating nuclear energy production with other industrial processes to optimize thermal and electrical energy production.
Through the selection of these projects, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office will advance HTE hydrogen production research and development (R&D) with the potential to offer baseload nuclear plants an additional revenue stream.
The projects identified are chosen as alternates under prior year Fuel Cell Technologies Office funding opportunity announcements, which included topics on hydrogen production materials R&D.
FuelCell Energy will receive $1.5 million for materials R&D aimed at reducing the operating temperature of solid-oxide high-temperature electrolysis (HTE) to levels more compatible with advanced nuclear energy heat sources.
Saint Gobain will receive up to $1 million 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 $1 million to develop new HTE materials capable of durable and efficient operation at temperatures compatible with nuclear energy heat sources.