New partnership to produce zero carbon hydrogen at nuclear power plant

Engineering for the 240kW demonstration at Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island facility is currently underway, with power expected in early 2024

Big Zero Report 2022

A new collaboration is seeking to demonstrate the production of zero carbon hydrogen at a nuclear power plant in the US.

Bloom Energy is installing an electrolyser at Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant in Welch, Minnesota, which operates at high temperatures to convert water into hydrogen.

The high heat and steam produced by Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island facility feeds into Bloom Energy’s electrolyser to produce zero-carbon hydrogen “more efficiently than low temperature electrolysis alternatives” like polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) or alkaline.

These low temperature alternatives are said to require roughly 40% more electricity, providing the Bloom electrolyser an efficiency advantage that is expected to significantly drive down the cost of hydrogen production.

The Prairie Island facility is one of Xcel Energy’s two nuclear power plants that produce nearly 30% of the electricity provided to its customers in the Upper Midwest.

Engineering for the 240kW demonstration is currently underway, with construction expected to begin in late 2023 and power expected in early 2024.

Peter Gardner, Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer at Xcel Energy said: “Xcel Energy’s nuclear power plants already play a vital role in our energy mix, delivering clean, reliable and affordable power for our customers while avoiding hundreds of millions of tons of emissions.

“This project will provide a tremendous opportunity to better understand how our existing nuclear plants can contribute to the development of hydrogen technologies and build a carbon-free future.”

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