DOE publishes strategic framework for hydrogen effort

13 November 2020

The US Department of Energy (DOE) yesterday released its Hydrogen Program Plan to provide a strategic framework for its hydrogen research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities. The plan, which reinforces DOE's commitment to develop the technologies that can enable hydrogen expansion in the USA, incorporates the RD&D efforts of multiple DOE offices to advance the production, transport, storage, and use of hydrogen across different sectors of the economy.

(Image: DOE)

"Hydrogen is an exciting fuel source that has the potential to integrate our nation's energy resources, but to fully recognise its potential across the economy, we need to lower costs and see a significant increase in hydrogen supply and demand," Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said. "This administration is excited by the Department-wide efforts and collaborations outlined in this Plan that will address these issues and help secure hydrogen as an option in the nation's energy future."

According to DOE, the plan serves as the overarching document to set the strategic direction of the Hydrogen Program, and to complement the technical and programmatic multi-year plans from each DOE office engaging in hydrogen RD&D activities.

Hydrogen is a versatile fuel that offers a path to sustainable long-term economic growth, Deputy Energy Secretary Mark Menezes and the heads of the various offices said in a message to stakeholders. It can add value to multiple sectors of the economy, serve as a sustainable fuel for transportation and as input to produce electricity and heat for homes and even be exported. "But realising the true potential for hydrogen requires a commitment to continued research and development as well as ramping up demonstrations and deployments with the private sector to achieve scale. Unlike other fuels, hydrogen requires more integration of the fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy systems, and it will take an integrated approach from all energy sectors to realise the full potential and benefits of hydrogen," they said.

The plan's strategic framework incorporates the research, development, and demonstration efforts of the Offices of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Fossil Energy, Nuclear Energy, Electricity, Science, and the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to advance the production, transport, storage, and use of hydrogen.

"For decades, DOE has supported the development of technologies to complement the production of hydrogen fuel from our traditional sources," Menezes said. "The RD&D activities outlined in the Plan will contribute to this important DOE-wide effort to support our all-of-the-above energy strategy."

A key aspect of the strategy is to enable hydrogen production from a diverse array of low-carbon domestic energy resources, including renewables, nuclear energy, and fossil fuels (with carbon capture, utilisation and storage - CCUS).

Assistant Secretary, Nuclear Energy Rita Baranwal said the programme plan allows DOE to streamline its efforts around hydrogen R&D. "@GovNuclear [the Office of Nuclear Energy] is currently working to demonstrate high- and low-temperature electrolysis at US reactors to produce hydrogen at scale, which could open up new markets for the nuclear industry," she tweeted.

DOE in October selected two projects to advance flexible operation of light-water reactors with integrated hydrogen production systems to receive cost-shared funding through the Office of Nuclear Energy's US Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity announcement, in collaboration with the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

Under one of those projects, Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy will work with Idaho National Laboratory (INL) to demonstrate a system that uses a nuclear plant's steam and electricity to split water. The resulting hydrogen will initially be used at the power plant, but it could eventually be sold to other industries. The system is likely to be demonstrated at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Station, INL said this week.

The second proposal sees FuelCell Energy Inc of Connecticut team with INL to demonstrate and validate a solid oxide electrolysis cell hydrogen production system for integration into nuclear power plants.

A two-year project to demonstrate commercial hydrogen production via low-temperature electrolysis at Energy Harbor's Davis-Besse Nuclear Plant near Toledo, Ohio, received DOE funding in September 2019. Arizona Public Service, under the same award, is also evaluating the integration of nuclear energy with hydrogen production at the Palo Verde nuclear power plant.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News