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A Process Model for the Production of Hydrogen Using High Temperature Electrolysis

[+] Author Affiliations
Michael G. McKellar, Edwin A. Harvego

Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID

Matt Richards, Arkal Shenoy

General Atomics

Paper No. ICONE14-89694, pp. 703-709; 7 pages
  • 14th International Conference on Nuclear Engineering
  • Volume 3: Structural Integrity; Nuclear Engineering Advances; Next Generation Systems; Near Term Deployment and Promotion of Nuclear Energy
  • Miami, Florida, USA, July 17–20, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4244-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3783-1
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME


High temperature electrolysis (HTE) involves the splitting of steam into hydrogen and oxygen at high temperatures. The primary advantage of HTE over conventional low temperature electrolysis is that considerably higher hydrogen production efficiencies can be achieved. Performing the electrolysis process at high temperatures results in more favorable thermodynamics for electrolysis, more efficient production of electricity, and allows direct use of process heat to generate steam. This paper presents the results of process analyses performed to evaluate the hydrogen production efficiencies of an HTE plant coupled to a 600 MWt Modular Helium Reactor (MHR) that supplies both the electricity and process heat needed to drive the process. The MHR operates with a coolant outlet temperature of 950 C. Approximately 87% of the high-temperature heat is used to generate electricity at high efficiency using a direct, Brayton-cycle power conversion system. The remaining high-temperature heat is used to generate a superheated steam / hydrogen mixture that is supplied to the electrolyzers. The analyses were performed using the HYSYS process modeling software. The model used to perform the analyses consisted of three loops; a primary high temperature helium loop, a secondary helium loop and the HTE process loop. The detailed model included realistic representations of all major components in the system, including pumps, compressors, heat exchange equipment, and the electrolysis stack. The design of the hydrogen production process loop also included a steam-sweep gas system to remove oxygen from the electrolysis stack so that it can be recovered and used for other applications. Results of the process analyses showed that hydrogen production efficiencies in the range of 45% to 50% are achievable with this system.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME



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