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Westinghouse, Bloom Energy to accelerate large-scale hydrogen production in nuclear industry; high-temperature integrated electrolysis

Westinghouse Electric Company and Bloom Energy Corporation have entered into a Letter of Intent to pursue clean hydrogen production in the commercial nuclear power market. The companies are teaming to identify and implement clean hydrogen projects across the nuclear industry.

Westinghouse and Bloom Energy will jointly develop an optimized and large-scale high-temperature integrated electrolysis solution for the nuclear industry. With the ability to operate 24/7 and provide high-quality steam input, nuclear plants are well-positioned to utilize electrolyzer technology and produce substantial quantities of clean hydrogen with minimal disruption to current, ongoing operations.

We are proud Westinghouse has turned to Bloom and our solid oxide technology to supercharge the clean hydrogen economy. Solid oxide technology is well suited for nuclear applications, efficiently harnessing steam to further improve the economics of hydrogen production. High temperature electrolysis is already garnering attention and accolades as a cost-effective and viable solution to create low-cost, clean hydrogen, which is critical to meeting aggressive decarbonization goals.

—Rick Beuttel, vice president, hydrogen business, Bloom Energy

Global demand for hydrogen and its emerging applications is projected to increase tenfold or more by 2050, surpassing the current infrastructure for producing and delivering hydrogen. As hydrogen usage expands from traditional industrial uses to the fuel of a clean future, the need to produce it in larger quantities and from low- and zero-carbon sources is clear.

The hydrogen produced in nuclear plants can be utilized to serve many industries such as renewable fuels production, oil and metals refining, ammonia synthesis, mining operations, and mobility in sectors such as heavy trucks, buses, and even air travel. The companies also are well positioned to support the US Department of Energy’s developing hydrogen hubs. (Earlier post.)



I fancy Nuscale's SMR solution, - here is a video from 'Engineering with Rosie'

They target around $58MWh, which for an on-demand solution, ie you have to have storage costs included in renewables, is pretty good.

As Nuscale tell Rosie in response to her questions, they took on the extra challenge of making it fully adapted to very efficient hydrogen production vie high temperature electrolysis so that they could produce hydrogen right where it is needed for industrial processes or even local heating systems etc and challenges of transporting or piping hydrogen could be finessed, and to enable greater flexibility so that if the electricity is in low demand, then hydrogen is produced instead.

Whilst my own view is that the challenges of piping hydrogen are overstated, avoiding them is better yet.

The only real downsides are that this generation of SMR's still produce the same waste as traditional reactors, another overstated issue in my view, but more importantly they can't really contribute much until post 2030.

Interesting video, as always from Rosie, though, and very thought provoking.


I'm for it too.
Use small nuclear for district heat, electricity and or H2.
You might have (human) problems with district heat unless you have a quite long, very well insulated hot water pipe.
+ there would be a massive amount of disruption as you put the pipe networks into cities.


If you are going to make "green" hydrogen, using nuclear power and high temperature electrolysis is much better than just using electric power and low temperature electrolysis. Even better would be high temperature thermo-chemical hydrogen generation but that requires higher temperature than is generated by a light water reactor. Hopefully, TerraPower will build a demonstration plant for their small modular sodium cooled high temperature fast reactor. Trade named Natrium which is just Latin for sodium. They are planning on building their initial reactor in Kemmerer which is in southwest Wyoming not that far from where I live on the site of an existing coal fired power plant that is scheduled to be shut down. The fast reactors burn up most of the waste.

Davemart, Thanks for the link to 'Engineering with Rosie'. I watched the YouTube post on hydrogen and will look at the one on nuclear power you just posted a link to. You might like "just Have a Think"series with Dave Borlace which is also UK based and quite informative.


Someday China and India may have more fast reactors we will have to catch up.


The upside of Solar, Wind and Geothermal, is the fuel is free and local; Using fuel based electricity generation, including nuclear plants is dependent on a fuel supplier and that can be a large downside.
These technologies, and their companion Battery Technology, are continuing to be at the forefront of development and some believe will in the long run displace the other generation technologies.
I'm not against nuclear energy generation, just fearful that it's safe operation in the hands of error-prone human designers and operators.
In any case the idea of creating and storing H2 using surplus electricity makes good environmental sense, if it can be accomplished.



I treat Dave Borlace with far more scepticism than Rosie, who has a much firmer engineering background, although of course, like the rest of us, she does not think of everything.

But IMO Dave knows far less about what are the relevant parameters we need to properly evaluate stuff so gives too much credence to some far out speculative tech.

For instance here:

As I noted in the commentary:

' I am afraid both here and on the Gelion site every critical parameter needed to assess the technology is missing.
Talking about applications not specs as the webisite does encourages flannel.

How much does this cost per KWh, what is the cycle efficiency, and what is the rate of self discharge, for starters?'

I find Rosie far more credible in her assessments, although as I have said elsewhere in her questioning of Paul Martin, a sceptical expert on hydrogen, the central issue which he raised was the practicality of putting as much hydrogen by energy content through existing natural gas pipes, when AFAIK there is no reason why we should want to, as we are going to be cutting back on energy demand through a host of technologies, she appears to have missed that one.

As for lower temperature production of hydrogen, in fact efficiencies can be boosted quite a bit by upper the temperature somewhat, without reaching anything like HT electrolysis.

There is an awful lot of process heat from nuclear as well as other industrial processes which is currently just vented, at some considerable expense, particularly in water usage.

I can't readily dig out my references for that claim, but here is a study of using just the waste heat from electrolysis itself to improve its own efficiency:

So for the UK by 2050:

By product heat from electrolysis being by 2050 in the UK more than the total domestic energy draw for space heating is pretty substantial.

So without getting as sophisticated as HT electrolysis, efficiencies, especially for electrical plus thermal, can be considerably improved.

Also of interest in this link they note that:

' Indeed, the UK’s Hydrogen Strategy1 suggests that 250 –460 TWh of hydrogen could be needed by 2050, making up 20 – 35% of the UK’s final energy consumption. The primary role of this hydrogen would be to replace (or extensively displace)
natural gas in parts of the energy system, and / or to act as an energy storage medium.'

That 20-35% of energy, displacing mainly gas, fits in pretty neatly with the capacity of a roughly converted NG pipeline network at the lower volumetric energy density of hydrogen, even ignoring the likely substantial role of on site conversion of ammonia to hydrogen, SMR produced hydrogen at the point of use, and so on, so that Paul Martin's critique of hydrogen use being severely curtailed due to problems piping it are even more difficult to understand.

But to the original comment of yours, Dave is entertaining, as his videos spark poking around to check out techs, but I don't take his own evaluations at all seriously, certainly not as seriously as Rosie's.


@ Davemart:
"I fancy Nuscale's SMR solution, - here is a video from 'Engineering with Rosie'"
For all proponents of SMRs, the following link is a "must to read".



Anyone who focuses much on some fancied nuclear waste 'problem' is either innumerate or an idealogue, opr both.

As EP says, they are welcome to bury it in my back garden.

It should really be called 'stored fuel' for the next generation of reactors.

Nearly as ludicrous as imagining that nuclear has led to high mortality, when not adopting it has led to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of deaths in the coal mining and consequent pollution which took place instead.


@ Davemart:
You sound like Trump advising the broad public to drink some liquid anti-septic as a remedy against a corona infection.


@ Davemart:
You sound like Trump advising the broad public to drink some liquid anti-septic as a remedy against a corona infection.



Presumably you imagined that you posted that once, not twice.
An inability to count is somewhat of a hallmark of your evaluations also.

I rather imagine that D Trump is pretty keen on all fossil fuels, and together with his Republican party would accept no word of my criticism of coal, preferring to rip up mountains without criticism.

But attacking my real position instead of deliberately misrepresenting it requires actual thought, not really your strongest suit.



Sorry, too harsh.
But you surely can't imagine that I don't have a pretty tolerable grasp of the literature on the radiation risks of nuclear, or the lack of them?
We simply have utterly different opinions on them.

I would also note that unlike DT I think Global warming is real, and consequential, aside from differing from him on supposedly stolen elections and just about every other issue imaginable, so your equating my position to his is about as far from the facts as can be.

Pretty much the same goes in my view for your ideas of the risks of nuclear waste.


The paranoia over "high-level nuclear waste" is completely out of proportion to the number of people ever harmed by it:  zero.

If we take companies like Elysium and Moltex at their word, the cooling pools and casks are rich storehouses of energy just waiting for us to build the right kind of reactors to use it.  Some of the fission products are valuable in their own right, and going with a molten-salt scheme eliminates issues of fuel fabrication.  Per Moltex, converting used oxide fuel to Moltex fuel is basically a four-step process:

  1. Electrorefine the oxide to reduce it to mixed metals.
  2. Extract the lanthanides (fission products) using molten iron chloride.  Lanthanides are the most reactive and will come out into solution first, being replaced by metallic iron.
  3. Next, extract the higher actinides (the next-most reactive elements.
  4. Last, extract the uranium.
The fission products are ready for disposal or other uses, while the uranium is only slightly radioactive and can be set aside as top-up breeding material.  None of this requires high purity so it can be done relatively cheaply.


Oh, I forgot the energy-cost question.  Supposedly, HTSE is about 30% more efficient (electric power to H2) than room-temperature electrolysis, so guessing 27 kWh/kg is probably in the ballpark.  At $58/MWh and 27 kWh/kg, the electric input comes to about $1.57/kg.  The electrolyzer, heat input and everything else comes on top of that.

This seems fairly cheap for vehicle fuel, but costly compared to natural gas.


@ Davemart:
"Presumably you imagined that you posted that once, not twice."
Just to reassure you, I posted my comment only once and not twice. If you 'd waste a glance at the date and time you'd realize that they're exactly the same. Someone else and not me made a boo-boo.
I may be getting on in age but am all else than senile. Apart from my mother tongue, I'm fluent in two other languages and still know when I'm thinking, speaking and / or writing in which language I'm presently navigating. How about you?



You are thinking of the US.
Here in Europe, NG now costs around 90Euros/MWh
That comes to something like $2.70 for the same energy as in a kg of hydrogen, using the values you inputted, if I have not dropped a decimal or something.

IOW in present circumstances, using HTSE just for hydrogen production even after allowances for electrolysers etc would already be cheaper than current fuel costs.

But hydrogen from nuclear is really just a freebie, with most of the production likely to be in electricity, and hydrogen for when the electricity is not needed.

And hydrogen from renewables when available is likely to be even cheaper.

So present costs in most of the world ex the US are already anomalous as against low carbon sources.

Of course, we have not built HTSE's yet! ;-)



For another method of smoothing out power delivery, for either nuclear or renewables, I have just come across this, for the first time:

As far as I can see Electrek's notion that this is long duration is mistaken, and on the website, which is reasonably informative, giving for instance round trip efficiency, which is 75% or so,

this is more relatively short term, hours or maybe days, ( they give no figures for degradation rates, but I am guessing that is not the problem ) but certainly for seasonal storage the size of the dome would start to be mind boggling.

But I fancy this way more than CAES, having chatted on the web to people who were engineers in that environment, and encouragingly it is already being deployed:

' All the main equipment used in the CO2 battery are “off the shelf” and readily available on the market by multiple Tier 1 suppliers. Each piece of equipment is already tested on the ground in real world applications. This enables a fast commercialization and a safe and reliable operation of the CO2 battery.'

What do you reckon?

What do you reckon?

First and foremost, I wish these a****le web designers would STOP USING FIXED HEADERS AND OTHER ELEMENTS.  My window belongs to ME and is reserved for CONTENT.  When they try to grab it for their nonsense, I dive into Inspector and DELETE IT... and endeavor never to visit their lousy site ever again.

Second, 20 MW-5h is pathetic.  A typical Gen III nuclear plant generates 10x that much energy EVERY hour, and requires no external electric input.

Third, I wonder just how vulnerable that bubble-bladder is to storm damage?

I'm reminded of the liquid-air energy storage system being touted by someone else.  It used the atmosphere as its low-pressure reservoir and did not have the issues of storm vulnerability nor the sheer bulk of this scheme.  It was also expensive, well in excess of 10¢/kWh cost of storage alone (not including cost of energy to charge it).

The term "combined cycle" bothers me.  Does the heat come from fossil sources?  If so, it does not allow a decarbonized energy cycle.

Frankly, I'd prefer to see a liquid-air energy storage system which uses nuclear heat as its supplemental thermal source and avoids CO2 entirely.



I agree about website layout, but I am just grateful when sites actually give concrete numbers such as round trip efficiency when many don’t.

I’m not bothered by the small size, it ain’t there to compete with nuclear or renewables, but to store their energy, so these can be installed close to point of use.

20Mw for five hours would be pretty useful for smoothly the output of a nuscale reactor as an alternative to producing hydrogen, for instance, and as they say can be used for frequency regulation instead of batteries.

Since it is closed cycle it does not involve CO2 production after the initial loading.

In my childhood in the 1950’s every ‘dirty old town’ had a gas storage installation to cope with peak demand, and even though they contained an explosive mixture they inflated and deflated just fine even in storms.

I’m not really concerned that 2020’s standard off the shelf technology can’t cope with an inert gas in an analogous construction.

From the figures given I prefer this to often environmentally batteries for peak smoothing

Since they are being built now we will soon have better data to form a judgement on


The regulators in the US and Canada have just completed the technical review of Bill Gates's molten salt reactor

Love a lot of things about it, but this particular configuration,
'IMSR400 configuration, with twin reactors and generators, will mean an overall power plant design with a potential output of up to 390 MWe.'

is a perhaps a bit big for series production off site in a factory to hold down costs?


I don't know.  390 MW(e) is a relatively small output, which suggests that the physical size shouldn't be all that large either (particularly for twin reactors), but without reviewing the blueprints I couldn't say.

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