Idaho National Laboratory: Carbon-Free Production of Hydrogen with Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors

Source:  Brian Wang, The Next Big Future, September 6, 2018. 

Molten salt nuclear reactor developer Terrestrial Energy has partnered with Southern Company and several U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories (including Idaho National Laboratory) to develop a more efficient and cleaner method for producing hydrogen using nuclear heat and power.

The two-year research and development project will examine the efficiency, design and economics of the IMSR® power plant to produce carbon-free, industrial-scale hydrogen using the hybrid sulfur process. This carbon-free method of generating hydrogen from water may be more efficient than high-temperature steam electrolysis.

The project intends to demonstrate the commercial and industrial-scale viability of pairing the hybrid sulfur process with an IMSR® power plant for large-scale production of hydrogen with zero greenhouse-gas emissions.

This work builds on two decades of research at Savannah River National Laboratory, which will continue to lead the technology development along with Sandia National Laboratories and Idaho National Laboratory.

Besides current uses of hydrogen in ammonia production, petroleum refining, chemicals production and other industrial applications, hydrogen is expected to grow significantly as a storable energy carrier. Future applications include all forms of transportation, thermal energy and energy storage, as well as growth in conventional uses of hydrogen. By 2020, the hydrogen market is expected to reach $200 billion.

Today, most hydrogen is made from fossil energy using steam methane reforming (SMR) of natural gas, followed by partial oxidation (POX) and autothermal reforming (ATR), which combines SMR and POX processes.

Removing carbon from the production of hydrogen helps bring deep decarbonization into reach. It points the way to the production of carbon-neutral transport fuels and zero-emissions fertilizers.

Read more here.