Blowing off steam: Using nuclear plant resources to create green hydrogen

Xcel Energy will work with Idaho National Laboratory to demonstrate a system that uses a nuclear plant’s steam and electricity to split water and create green hydrogen, likely at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Station in Red Wing, Minnesota. Photo courtesy of Xcel Energy.

☢️ NUCLEAR: More information is being released about Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy’s plan to use nuclear energy for clean hydrogen production at a Minnesota plant. More than $10 million in federal funding is going toward the first-of-its-kind project, which could prove transformational for the nuclear industry.

  • Xcel will work with Idaho National Laboratory to demonstrate that the nuclear plant’s steam and electricity can be used to split water to create green hydrogen. The water-splitting system likely will be implemented at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Station in Red Wing, Minnesota.

  • Currently, industrial-grade hydrogen is produced by stripping it from natural gas molecules, a process that gives off carbon monoxide. Nuclear plants do not produce carbon emissions or other air pollutants, so this new form of hydrogen production is viewed as a way for nuclear plants to help lower industrial hydrogen users’ carbon footprints.

  • The hydrogen initially will be used at the power plant where it is generated, but eventually it could be sold for use in other industries including vehicle fuel cells.

  • “This is a game-changer for both nuclear energy and carbon-free hydrogen production for numerous industries,” said Richard Boardman, national technical lead for the U.S. Department of Energy Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program’s Flexible Plant Operations and Generation Pathway. “It offers a view of the energy structures of the future, which will integrate systems to maximize energy use, generator profitability and grid reliability all while minimizing carbon emissions.”

🚗 EVs:

  • General Motors announced it will hire 3,000 employees for engineering, design, and IT positions for its electric vehicle platform, Reuters reports. The hiring is expected to begin immediately and run through the first quarter of next year.

  • Ford announced today that it is investing $950 million in two Michigan plants and one in Kansas City to build a series of new electric vehicles, reports the Detroit Free Press.

🌞 SOLAR: Evansville Regional Airport in Indiana became the fifth airport in the nation — out of more than 3,600 — to install a solar canopy over parking spaces that reduces energy costs and supports the airport’s sustainability goals, reports International Airport Review.

🥤 PLASTICS: Case Western Reserve University is leading a team of researchers working to develop and test a lower-cost way to recycle plastics by breaking them down through a lower-temperature, lower-pressure method. The public and private partners believe they can produce a higher-quality processed material that can be used in more recycled plastic applications.

💰 FUNDING: The U.S. Department of Energy announced $4 million in new funding for smart manufacturing technologies that improve energy-intensive manufacturing processes.


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