This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

December 01, 2004

New Technology Uses Nuclear Power to Produce Hydrogen

Will nuclear power fuel a future "hydrogen economy"? Researchers at DOE's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) think so, as they have demonstrated how nuclear power could be used to efficiently produce large quantities of hydrogen. The INEEL researchers have teamed with Ceramatec, Inc. to produce hydrogen using high-temperature electrolysis.

While conventional electrolysis involves running an electrical current through water to produce hydrogen and oxygen—typically at conversion efficiencies of about 30 percent—high-temperature electrolysis is able to achieve substantially higher conversion efficiencies. INEEL researchers announced on November 29th that they've been able to convert 45 to 50 percent of the input energy into hydrogen using their high-temperature electrolysis process, which produces 50 liters of hydrogen per hour. Since the process requires both electricity and a high-temperature heat source, nuclear reactors are ideal for the task. See the press releases from INEEL and DOE.