DOE to fund integrated hydrogen production at LWRs

October 13, 2020, 7:00AMNuclear News

Two projects intended to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen production technology at existing U.S. light-water reactors received the bulk of the funding announced by the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) on October 8 under the ongoing U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity announcement (FOA). Out of three projects with a total value of $26.9 million, the two involving hydrogen production have a total value of $26.2 million.

Credit where credit is due: The two projects involving hydrogen production are funded under the FOA’s Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway in collaboration with the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office. The third project, which uses modeling and simulation capabilities developed under the DOE’s Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation (NEAMS) program and Energy Innovation Hub for Modeling and Simulation, was awarded under the Regulatory Assistance Grants pathway.

Hydrogen demo for Xcel Energy: Under a proposal called “LWR Integrated Energy Systems Interface Technology Development and Demonstration,” with a total value of about $13.8 million, Xcel Energy will carry out the planning, design, installation, testing, demonstration, and evaluation of nonelectric, hybrid energy technologies connected to an LWR. There are two deliverables: a fully functional hydrogen plant capable of operating as a hybrid system to test diverse electrolysis technologies coupled with an LWR, and design development for a hybrid reversible system. Both are to be integrated into the normal operating routine of the plant.

Solid oxide electrolysis: Under a proposal from FuelCell Energy, of Danbury, Conn., and Idaho National Laboratory, with a total award value of $12.5 million, researchers will demonstrate and validate a solid oxide electrolysis cell system and deliver a 250-kW turnkey subscale system with ultra-high efficiency and low cost. Project goals include enabling modular 200–500 MW solid oxide electrolysis cell utility-scale systems and demonstrating how nuclear-hydrogen production operations can help nuclear plants increase their profitability by switching between electricity production and hydrogen generation.

Simulation of metal fuel for LWRs: Structural Integrity Associates, of San Jose, Calif., has proposed using the modeling and simulation capabilities developed by NEAMS and the DOE’s Energy Innovation Hub for Modeling and Simulation to analyze metal fuel behavior in an LWR environment. New material and behavior models will be developed and implemented in the BISON fuel performance code and documented in a detailed report. The award has a value of $625,000.

Quotable: “These awards continue to demonstrate DOE’s commitment to accelerating U.S. advanced nuclear technology via private-public partnerships with our industry partners and national laboratories,” said Rita Baranwal, assistant secretary for nuclear energy. “They truly showcase DOE’s all-of-the-above energy strategy.”

Daniel Simmons, assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, said, “We are excited to continue our partnership with the Office of Nuclear Energy. After several years of working together, it will be valuable to see these real-world demonstration projects produce hydrogen and enable the integration of nuclear power with renewables.”

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