US work on technical and economic aspects of electrolytic, thermochemical, and hybrid processes for hydrogen production at temperatures below 550°C
Hydrogen demand is increasing, but there are few options for affordable hydrogen production free of greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear power is one of the most promising options. Most research is focused on high-temperature electrolytic and thermochemical processes for nuclear-generated hydrogen, but it will be many years before very high temperature reactors become commercially available. For light water reactors or supercritical reactors, low-temperature water electrolysis is a currently available technology for hydrogen production. Higher efficiencies may be gained through thermo-electrochemical hydrogen production cycles, but there are only a limited number that have heat requirements consistent with the lower temperatures of light-water reactor technology. Indeed, active research is ongoing for only three such cycles in the USA. Reductions in electricity and system costs would be needed (or the imposition of a carbon tax) for low-temperature water electrolysis to compete with today's costs for steam methane reformation. The interactions between hydrogen and electricity markets and hydrogen and electricity producers are complex and will evolve as the markets evolve.
Keywords: nuclear hydrogen production, water electrolysis, low-temperature thermochemical cycles, off-peak power economics, nuclear energy, nuclear power, hybrid processes, USA, United States, light-water reactors, supercritical reactors, nuclear reactors
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