chapter  31
18 Pages

NGNP and NHI Programs of the U.S. Department of Energy

ByMatt Richards, Robert Buckingham

The U.S. Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which required the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to establish the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) Project. In accordance with the Energy Policy Act, the NGNP Project consists of the research, development, design, construction, and operation of a prototype plant that (1) includes a nuclear reactor based on the research and development activities supported by the Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems Initiative, and (2) shall be used to generate electricity, to produce hydrogen, or to co-generate electricity and hydrogen. The NGNP Project supports both the national need to develop safe, clean, and economical nuclear energy and the national hydrogen fuel initiative, which has the goal of establishing greenhouse-gas-free technologies for the production of hydrogen. The DOE has selected the helium-cooled high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) as the concept to be used for the NGNP because it is the most advanced Generation IV concept with the capability to provide process heat at sufŒciently high temperatures for production of hydrogen with high thermal efŒciency. The DOE has also selected the Idaho national laboratory (INL), the DOE’s lead national laboratory for nuclear energy research, to lead the development of the NGNP. Concurrently with the NGNP program, the nuclear hydrogen initiative (NHI) was established to develop hydrogen production technologies that are compatible with advanced nuclear systems and do not produce greenhouse gases. As of 2009, the DOE has been considering nearer-term process heat applications for the NGNP and has placed less emphasis on the long-term hydrogen production mission. As discussed below, this decision was based in part on feedback from potential industrial end users of the

CONTENTS

31.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................777 31.2 NGNP Project ..................................................................................................................... 778

31.2.1 HTGR Design and Safety Features ..................................................................... 780 31.2.2 GA NGNP Preconceptual Design ....................................................................... 782 31.2.3 Economic Assessments for Commercialization ................................................ 784

31.3 Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative ............................................................................................ 786 31.3.1 Overall Objectives .................................................................................................. 786 31.3.2 The SI Process Development ................................................................................ 787

References ..................................................................................................................................... 794

NGNP technology. The current DOE schedule for the NGNP Project calls for startup of the NGNP by 2021.