BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. government’s primary nuclear lab is partnering with three energy utilities to find an economical way to use nuclear energy to produce hydrogen that can be stored and used to power everything from industry to personal vehicles, officials said Wednesday.
The U.S. Department of Energy said the Idaho National Laboratory will work with Ohio-based FirstEnergy Solutions, Minnesota-based Xcel Energy, and Arizona Public Service.
Energy Department officials say the projects are intended to improve the long-term competitiveness of the nuclear power industry by giving it another product to sell.
“They will enable the production of commodities such as hydrogen in addition to electricity from commercial nuclear power plants,” said Bruce Hallbert, director of the Energy Department’s Sustainability Program at the Idaho National Lab.
“This project also accelerates the transition to a national hydrogen economy by contributing to the use of hydrogen as a storage medium for production of electricity, as a zero-emitting transportation fuel, or as a replacement for industrial processes that currently use carbon-emitting sources in hydrogen production,” he said.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration in a June tally, there were 97 nuclear reactors at 59 commercial power plants in 29 states producing about 20 percent of the nation’s energy. Most of the reactors are decades old, and many are having a tough time competing economically with other forms of energy production.