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Nuclear Power Could Provide Heat for Hydrogen Production

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Ibrahim Khamis, Ph.D at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, has recently described to the scientific community a method nuclear power plants could use to provide the heat necessary for the production of hydrogen from water, through electrolysis.

He presented his research at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), where he said that he and his colleagues from around the world are now focusing onto ways to use the total of 435 nuclear reactors for this kind of operations, including the enlisting of future ones.

“There is rapidly growing interest around the world in hydrogen production using nuclear power plants as heat sources,” Khamis said. “Hydrogen production using nuclear energy could reduce dependence on oil for fueling motor vehicles and the use of coal for generating electricity. In doing so, hydrogen could have a beneficial impact on global warming, since burning hydrogen releases only water vapor and no carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. There is a dramatic reduction in pollution.”

Industrial hydrogen production facilities currently produce the gas from methane or coal, but the main drawback to this method is the releasing of carbon dioxide which, despite the modern carbon filters installed at the factories’ furnaces, thus ruining the benefits hydrogen can bring to the environment.

Current nuclear power plants have been envisioned to be able to provide heat for low-temperature electrolysis. This approach could also use low electricity prices during off-peak hours. However, when dedicated nuclear hydrogen-generating facilities will be built, they’ll use more efficient high temperature electrolysis or even couple the production to thermochemical processes.

“Nuclear hydrogen from electrolysis of water or steam is a reality now, yet the economics need to be improved,” Khamis said.

[via physorg]

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3 COMMENTS

  1. *waste: meant to say “waste, and its short term storage, transport, long term storage and security problems.” there is still no near term generational trend to safer plants on the horizon. the two new nuke plants approved for georgia are not thorium based, which, granted, increases operational safety and reduces waste production (though abundant radioactive waste is still produced), but are still giant sitting duck targets. khamis’ proposal, though appearing technically feasible, does nothing to mitigate the very serious risks of nuclear plant operation and proliferation. khamis’ idea will only serve as a (transparent!) smokescreen presented by a threatened industry to shore up its hopefully short remaining active life. the thing is, even after all the nuke plants close, we will still be left with thousands and thousands of years of storage issues with no guarantee that future technology will resolve it. not to mention the low probability of coherent governmental or even industry continuity regarding safety administration for the same length of time. if the billions spent on one nuclear plant were spent on alternative energy production, we’d have all the attendant benefits and none of the very serious drawbacks. those who unfavorably compare construction costs for, say, wind energy, with nuclear, asserting that, in terms of $/GW, wind is more expensive, invariably fail to include the very real costs of waste storage over the lifetime of the risk. and what happens when things go wrong in the near term. the chernobyl and fukushima dead zones aren’t enough?

  2. ughh. just a way to make more nuke plants, with all their attendant waste and security problems. it would be a perversion of the whole clean green concept, especially since splitting water molecules is easily accomplished with the new catalysts and the other innovative methods, many of which are detailed on this site!

  3. The Problem is that thare are thoes that want to Marry Princess Nuclear to Petrol chem. We have to marry her to green energy. Or she becomes Petrol’s prostitute.!!!

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