Title: Producing hydrogen using nuclear energy

Authors: Robert E. Uhrig

Addresses: University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Nuclear Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-2300, USA

Abstract: The earliest means of separating hydrogen from water was by electrolysis using electrical energy that usually had been produced by low-efficiency thermodynamic processes. Substitution of thermal energy for electrical energy in high-temperature electrolysis gives a somewhat higher overall efficiency, but significantly complicates the process. Today, the vast majority of hydrogen is produced by steam methane reforming (SMR) followed by a water-shift reaction. A well-designed SMR plant will yield hydrogen having 75–80% of the energy of the methane used. Recent work in Japan has demonstrated the feasibility of substituting high-temperature heat from a gas-cooled nuclear reactor to replace the heat supplied in SMR by the combustion of methane. Using high-temperature heat from nuclear plants to drive thermochemical processes for producing hydrogen has been studied extensively. Bench-scale tests have been carried out in Japan demonstrating the sulphur-iodine (SI) process to produce hydrogen.

Keywords: electrolysis; steam methane reforming; thermochemical processes; water splitting; hydrogen production; nuclear energy; nuclear power; nuclear hydrogen; gas-cooled nuclear reactors; Japan.

DOI: 10.1504/IJNHPA.2008.019447

International Journal of Nuclear Hydrogen Production and Applications, 2008 Vol.1 No.3, pp.179 - 193

Published online: 11 Jul 2008 *

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