Exelon Corp. will begin evaluating hydrogen production next year at one of its nuclear plants in New York, part of a growing push to use the most abundant element in the universe as a source of carbon-free power.
The Chicago-based company received a grant from the U.S. Energy Department to “explore the potential benefits of onsite production” at its Nine Mile Point facility north of Syracuse, Chief Executive Officer Chris Crane said Wednesday during a conference call
Governments worldwide are exploring hydrogen as a tool to fight climate change because the fuel can be burned in turbines or fed through fuel cells to generate electricity without producing greenhouse gases. Nuclear plants can play a role in the so-called hydrogen economy because surplus heat or electricity can be used to make hydrogen, which can be stored until its needed.
“Hydrogen will be key in helping the nation address the climate crisis and nuclear plants can play a vital role in this production,” Crane said.
The project is expected to evaluate the production, storage and use of hydrogen, with the goal of demonstrating its commercial viability. Exelon, the biggest U.S. nuclear plant operator, plans to look at ways to use heat to make the fuel, different ways to store it and the metallurgy that may be needed for pipelines.
Ultimately, Exelon is interested in “using a nuclear plant for something more than electricity,” Crane said. “You get all that waste heat and steam that can be redirected into the development of very efficient hydrogen.”