Rolls-Royce and partners to investigate production of hydrogen using electricity and heat from SMRs
20 November 2023
Topsoe, a specialist in carbon emission reduction technologies, ULC-Energy, a nuclear energy development and consultancy company, and Rolls-Royce SMR have announced the signing of a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) to investigate the production of hydrogen based on Topsoe’s Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell (SOEC) technology and electricity and heat produced from a Rolls-Royce SMR nuclear power plant.
Under the MOI, the parties will also prepare a valuation of the operational flexibility of the Rolls-Royce SMR/Topsoe SOEC combination in the future energy market based primarily on renewable energy. Initially, the parties are looking at a conceptual study to demonstrate synergies between SMR and SOEC.
Hydrogen produced using nuclear has significantly lower carbon intensity compared to conventional hydrogen and can therefore contribute to lowering global greenhouse gas emissions in heavy-industry and long-distance transportation, the companies said in a statement. The companies said that nuclear energy combined with SOEC technology has the potential to produce clean hydrogen more cheaply than alternative electrolysis processes because:
- The electrolysis takes place at a high temperature, which means that less electricity is needed to produce hydrogen.
- The nuclear power plants can produce energy on average up to 95% of the time, significantly higher than alternative variable energy sources.
- Nuclear energy can supply heat as well as electricity. By using heat directly, energy losses in the steam turbine can be avoided thus increasing the effective energy capacity of the nuclear power plant above its electric power rating.
Furthermore, the Rolls-Royce SMR nuclear power plant can, when required, switch to deliver power to the grid, providing back-up to variable power sources when these sources are not available. This is expected to be a competitive solution compared to alternatives, like long duration energy storage solutions or hydrogen combustion for electricity generation, the companies added. The joint investigation will include a valuation of the operational flexibility of the Rolls-Royce SMR/Topsoe SOEC combination in the future green energy market.