Bloom Energy and Idaho National Laboratory to test use of nuclear generation to power solid-oxide electrolyzer for H2 production
19 May 2021
Bloom Energy announced an agreement with Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to test the use of nuclear energy to produce clean hydrogen through Bloom Energy’s solid-oxide, high-temperature electrolyzer.
This carbon-free hydrogen is obtained through electrolysis that is powered by nuclear generation. When the electric grid has ample power, rather than ramping down power generation, the electricity generated by nuclear plants can be used to produce cost-effective hydrogen in support of the burgeoning hydrogen economy.
First announced in July 2020, Bloom Energy’s electrolyzer converts water (or steam) into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can then be injected into the natural gas pipeline, stored and used for power generation with a fuel cell at a later time, dispensed to fuel cell vehicles, or used by industrial processes that consume large amounts of hydrogen.
Bloom Energy’s electrolyzer has a higher efficiency than low-temperature electrolyzer technologies, thereby reducing the amount of electricity needed to produce hydrogen. The steam supplied to the electrolyzers can also be generated by the thermal energy produced by the nuclear power plant, bolstering the overall efficiency of hydrogen production further.
INL will test Bloom Energy’s electrolyzers at the Dynamic Energy Testing and Integration Laboratory in Idaho where researchers can simulate steam and load following conditions as if it were already integrated with a nuclear power station. These simulations will provide the opportunity to model operations in a controlled environment.
The high-temperature electrolyzers take advantage of both the thermal and the electrical power that are available at nuclear power plants. This expands the markets for nuclear power plants by allowing them to switch between sending power to the electrical grid and producing clean hydrogen for transportation and industry energy sectors.—Tyler Westover, Hydrogen and Thermal Systems Group lead at INL
We must think creatively and seek all possible low, zero, and negative carbon solutions to benefit our planet. Harnessing excess energy to produce hydrogen is a solution with a positive impact on global decarbonization efforts and we look forward to working with the team at Idaho National Laboratory to make this a reality. As a result of this pilot, we expect to establish carbon-free hydrogen generation with the highest efficiency of any electrolyzer in the market today.—Venkat Venkataraman, EVP and chief technology officer, Bloom Energy
And the all-nuclear economy takes one step closer to realization.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 19 May 2021 at 03:07 PM
It's all about cost.
New nukes not cheap at the moment.
In the UK the strike price for their new reactors about 14 US cents / kwhr
guaranteed for 30 years. (ie what the grid authorities had to offer the nuke companies to get them to build the plants)
Has to be well under 4 cents to get $2/kg hydrogen.
Solid Oxide electrolysers currently about double the cost of old fashioned alkaline electrolysers.
Reality is at moment you can't make economic green hydrogen from solar or wind because the utilisation of the expensive electrolyser is too low (capacity factor of solar not better than about 20%, so the electrolyser is off 80% of the time.
So options are cheap solar plus expensive storage to make expensive electrolysers work 24/7 .........or expensive nukes to make even more expensive but efficient electrolysers work 24/7.
Posted by: SVW | 19 May 2021 at 04:26 PM
I believe that the solution is lower cost small modular nuclear reactors and if you really want to use "renewable power", use the nuclear power for high temperature electrolysis when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing and the renewable resources can provide the electric base load. When there is insufficient renewable power, the nuclear plant can provide the required base load. This is what Shearwater Energy in the UK is proposing.
Posted by: sd | 20 May 2021 at 07:36 AM
Using waste heat for more efficiency
Posted by: SJC | 20 May 2021 at 08:42 AM
I'd prefer to keep hands off from producing H2 via electrolysis because the whole process is far too inefficient and it's a pity to waste precious renewable energy. However, a viable method for production of H2 could be as described in the following link.
Posted by: yoatmon | 20 May 2021 at 09:20 AM
Posted by: SJC | 20 May 2021 at 04:29 PM
Don't pick illusions, give your consideration to the complete cycle and you'll end up with at best ca. 30%.
Posted by: yoatmon | 22 May 2021 at 03:13 AM