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Put a Coalatom in Your Tank: The Compelling Case for a Marriage of Coal and Nuclear Energy

[+] Author Affiliations
Scott R. Penfield, Jr.

Technology Insights, Carthage, TN

Charles O. Bolthrunis

The Shaw Group

Paper No. ICONE14-89605, pp. 867-871; 5 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


Increasing costs and security concerns with present fossil energy sources, plus environmental concerns related to CO2 emissions and the emergence of new technologies in the energy and transportation sectors set the stage for a marriage of convenience between coal and nuclear energy. As the price of oil continues to increase and supply becomes increasingly constrained, coal offers a secure domestic alternative to foreign oil as a source of liquid fuels. However, conventional technologies for converting coal to liquid fuels produce large quantities of CO2 that must be released or sequestered. Advanced nuclear technologies, particularly the High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (HTGR), have the potential to produce hydrogen via water splitting; however, the transportation and storage of hydrogen are significant barriers to the “Holy Grail”, the Hydrogen Economy. In a coal/nuclear marriage, the hydrogen and oxygen provided by nuclear energy are joined with coal as a source of carbon to provide liquid fuels with negligible CO2 release from the process. In combination with emerging hybrid vehicles, fuels based on a coal/nuclear marriage promise stable prices, increased domestic security and a reduction in CO2 emissions without the need to completely replace our transportation fuels infrastructure. The intent of this paper is to outline the technical basis for the above points and to show that process energy applications of nuclear energy can provide the basis for answering some of the tougher questions related to energy and the environment.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME
Topics: Coal , Nuclear power



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