US Exelon Generation has received a Department of Energy (DOE) grant to explore the potential benefits of onsite hydrogen production at Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in Oswego, New York.

Exelon will partner with Nel Hydrogen, Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to demonstrate integrated production, storage and normal usage at the station.  

The project will generate an economical supply of hydrogen, a natural byproduct of nuclear energy, to be safely captured, stored and potentially taken to market as a 100% carbon-free source of power for other purposes, including industrial applications such as transportation. 

“This partnership with DOE reflects our continued commitment to innovation and further demonstrates the immense value of our nuclear fleet and its ability to provide carbon-free energy to the communities we serve,” said Dave Rhoades, Exelon’s chief nuclear officer.  “Among our many options, we chose the New York site, recognising the strong partnership that we have had with the State, including the support for nuclear energy provided through the New York Public Service Commission’s clean energy standard.” 

The amount of hydrogen safely stored at the site will not change significantly as a result of this initiative and plant staff are fully prepared to support the project using existing operational protocols. 

A Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolyser will be installed and will use the station’s existing hydrogen storage system and supporting infrastructure. Operations are expected to begin in 2022. 

The project is funded by the DOE's Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office, through the H2@Scale programme. H2@Scale is a DOE initiative that brings together stakeholders to advance affordable hydrogen production, transport, storage and utilisation to enable decarbonisation and revenue opportunities across multiple sectors.

Nel Hydrogen US, a subsidiary of Norway’s Nel ASA said on 11 August that it had received a contract for a 1.25MW containerised PEM electrolyser “from a leading utility in the US” for installation at a NPP, “a groundbreaking project for carbon-free hydrogen production”.  Stephen Szymanski, Vice President Sales and Marketing at Nel Hydrogen US said: “This project represents an important first step toward developing a regional supply of zero carbon hydrogen, while supporting clean baseload electricity resources on the grid.”  

Nel said the client will be installing an MC250 electrolyser at a nuclear plant for self-supply of hydrogen to meet their turbine cooling and chemistry control requirements. 

“A primary project outcome includes the successful operation and control of what will be the first PEM electrolyser at a nuclear generating plant in the US configured for dynamic dispatch. In addition, the project will demonstrate the economic feasibility of hydrogen production at nuclear sites and provide a blueprint for large scale carbon-free hydrogen export in support of DOE’s H2@Scale programme objectives.”

The purchase order has a value of approximately $2.6 million, and the electrolyser will be delivered in 2022, NeI said.