In the past, I’ve talked about the possibility of using nuclear reactors to not only generate electricity but also to produce hydrogen as a byproduct. Critics of hydrogen cars point to brute force electrolysis of water being too energy intensive to make it financially viable (and of course this is for another discussion altogether).
But, one method that sidesteps this issue is the high-temperature cracking of water into hydrogen and oxygen. Research has begun at Oregon State University (OSU) upon a new breed of nuclear reactor that operates at temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees, is 35 to 50-percent more energy efficient than the older reactors, is gas-cooled, avoiding meltdown issues, and will easily crack water and produce hydrogen at high temperatures.
Now, when I see the ads on television bolding claiming that nuclear energy is zero emissions, green energy, I say, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Make no mistake that there still will be spent nuclear waste that will need to be dealt with and disposed of in some shape or fashion.
But, if communities decide that they actually want nuclear reactors powering their regions, then we might as well make them as safe, efficient and effective as possible. OSU has received a $6 million grant to produce a one-quarter scale reactor to work out safety issues ahead of building the final large-scale reactor.
This will mostly likely play a significant role going forward with energy production in this country and large-scale hydrogen production as well.