Non-Electric Applications of Nuclear - Workshop (in collaboration with IFNEC)

Overview

Date & Venue: Monday October 3, Montreal A, Delta Hotel, Toronto, Canada.

Objectives: GIF-type reactor technologies can be employed for cogeneration and integration in energy markets with high fractions of renewables, providing ancillary services to support grid stability, enhanced flexibility and high-quality heat. Under GIF, the Task Force on Non-Electric Applications of Nuclear Heat (NEANH) is identifying and reviewing these systems and developing key performance indicators for technical and economic viability.

The primary objective of this full-day workshop on NEANH was to connect GIF to the high temperature community outside the nuclear field, but also to bring together stakeholders to establish connections between the research community and industry, engaging both nuclear technology developers and energy end users. The workshop was intended to improve the general level of knowledge of the GIF members regarding recent and ongoing activities on NEANH coupled with Gen IV systems, and ongoing research for non-electric applications using conventional water-cooled systems that may be leveraged for Gen IV applications.

Speakers:

  • Shannon Bragg-Sitton, Chair of the NEANH Task Force, Idaho National Laboratory
  • Ramesh Sadhankar, Natural Resources Canada
  • Gilles Rodriguez, Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives
  • Aaron Epiney, US, Idaho National Laboratory
  • Ali Siddiqui, Canada, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories
  • Rob Arnold, UK, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • Hiroyuki Sato, Japan, Japan Atomic Energy Agency
  • Michael Fütterer, EU, European Commission
  • Diane Cameron, Nuclear Energy Agency
  • Antonio Vaya Soler, Nuclear Energy Agency
  • Jeremy Shook, Electric Power Research Institute
  • Bronwyn Hyland, The Pathways Alliance
  • Gautam Phanse, Chevron Technology Ventures
  • John Kutsch, Ammonia Energy Association
  • Gretchen Baier, Dow Chemical
  • Katherine Moshonas Cole, X-Energy Canada
  • David LeBlanc, Terrestrial Energy
  • Tim Abram, U-Battery
  • Dominick Claudio, NuScale Power
  • Cristian Rabiti, Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation
  • Patrick Alexander, TerraPower

Through panel discussions and interactive dialogue, deployment opportunities were discussed in which nuclear energy systems could be used to support heat and electricity demands outside the power sector.

  • The research community spoke about computational tools and facilities that could support systems analysis and demonstrations to accelerate the path to commercial advanced reactor deployment, particularly for non-traditional applications.
  • Members of the energy end-use community shared details of their energy needs and requirements and raised potential issues regarding the integration of nuclear energy to drive these processes.
  • Nuclear technology developers shared their expected performance capabilities and deployment timelines for their systems.

The event was well-attended with more than 150 participants including Gen IV reactor developers, energy system modelers, industrial energy users, researchers, and other stakeholders.

Key messages from opening remarks

The workshop opening remarks highlighted the importance of pursuing non-electric applications of clean nuclear energy, and the pressing need for climate change mitigation. Nuclear energy provides an opportunity to support decarbonisation of the grid and industrial applications without sacrificing resilience and reliability.

There is significant documented precedent for using nuclear technologies for non-electric applications. Historically, these applications have included district heating, desalination, and limited industrial process heat applications. Although most of these applications were technically successful, they gained only limited market share in a context of inexpensive fossil fuels, the absence of emission restriction policies, and a lack of political support. The NEANH Task Force will build on these examples, complementing earlier initiatives that explored the greater opportunities for non-electric applications of nuclear heat. These initiatives include the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) Industry Alliance (2010 – 2015) in the US and the End User Requirement for Process Heat Applications with Innovative Reactors for Sustainable Energy Supply (EUROPAIRS) initiative (2009 – 2011).

Outcomes of the panel discussion

There is a real opportunity for nuclear heat to support the decarbonisation of a wide range of energy applications, both electric and non-electric, driven by climate change policies internationally. Key points identified by the panelists and ensuing discussions are highlighted below.

  • It is technically possible to couple these heat-intensive processes with nuclear energy, and there are successful precedents.
  • There is a significant need for the development and sharing of detailed data by relevant parties, including validation of expected cost and performance data via demonstration projects.
  • Certain reactor types are capable of delivering steam of 550°C as feedstock for standard industrial processes representing a very sizable market in most industrialized countries. An additional, equally large market for even higher temperatures can be supported by specific high temperature reactors and temperature boost technologies.
  • In addition to primary heat transfer from the reactor core to power conversion that is standard in nuclear reactor designs, many advanced reactor developers propose an additional heat transfer loop with thermal energy storage to isolate the nuclear reactor from the heat customer. This would grant greater flexibility and enhanced safety of the overall integrated system.
  • Nuclear energy is a “drop-in” solution expected to directly replace fossil fuel-powered steam supply operations, but may not be able to replace direct fossil fuel-fired operations.
  • Hydrogen has promising applications, but its role should be considered on a case-by-case basis that considers the benefits it offers as a feedstock and/or energy carrier with respect to the intended energy use sectors, in addition to its potential for decarbonisation.
  • There are a range of options for owner-operator models. Energy end-users do not desire to own and operate a reactor themselves, but are customers for nuclear-generated heat, steam, and electricity.
  • Cost is a significant driver for adoption, as are energy security, reliability, and social acceptance. Regulatory processes are viewed as a significant barrier for adoption; clarity is needed regarding interaction across the regulatory bodies for nuclear systems and industrial processes.

Actions and next steps for the NEANH Task Force

  • Engage stakeholders to facilitate early interaction between nuclear and conventional regulators and to familiarize industrial end-users with nuclear energy. This includes identifying relevant stakeholders that would benefit from ongoing conversation, including the licensees, regulators, and industrial groups such as mining, oil and gas, and chemicals production.
  • Evaluate drivers outside of North America, including by exploring issues related to energy security or increased stringency with emission caps.
  • Compile a shared database of ongoing work to inform systems analysis and input to decision makers.

PROGRAMME and PRESENTATIONS

  • Shannon Bragg-sitton (Idaho National Laboratory, United States of America)

Research Panel - Moderator: Gilles Rodriguez (CEAFrance)

Industry Panel - Moderator: Diane Cameron (OECD Nuclear Energy AgencyCanada)

Advanced Reactor Panel - Moderator: Aiden Peakman (UK National Nuclear Laboratory)