The session titled “Energy Storage Integration with Nuclear Power Plants,” held on November 17 during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting, was sponsored by the Operations and Power Division and chaired by Piyush Sabharwall, of Idaho National Laboratory.
Charging stations: Derek Kultgen, of Argonne National Laboratory, presented research showing microreactors as a potentially suitable power source for charging over-the-road Class 8 trucks and determining early metrics for the system’s power and energy requirements. According to the research, the lack of existing infrastructure for recharging over-the-road electric vehicles and the cost of implementing a means to support them provides a promising niche application for microreactors.
Variable electricity: Ali Aljefri, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that electricity markets are changing and are creating incentives for variable electricity from baseload nuclear plants. One answer for the changing markets is to couple heat storage to light-water reactors, with separate electric peaking plants using a hot-oil heat transfer from a nuclear plant to a storage facility and then from the storage facility to the power cycle. Aljefri said that crushed rock may provide the lowest-cost storage option, but that significant development work is required.
Heat transfer: Mriganka Mandal, of MIT, spoke about her research in developing a crushed-rock heat storage system that uses nitrate salts to transfer heat from the reactor to the storage facility and then to the power block. She said that initial research indicates that a crushed-rock nitrate-salt system is technologically and economically feasible, although significant work needs to be done before having high confidence in the research’s conclusions.
Chemical heat pump: Aman Gupta, of the University of Idaho, presented research showing that using pellets as a solid reactant is more suitable than powder for a Ca(OH)2/CaO chemical heat pump. Gupta said that powder showed poor heat transfer, and so it requires more input energy. Powder also shows a slightly higher conversion and temperature boost compared with pellets, Gupta concluded.