National need for utilizing nuclear energy for process heat generation Page: 1 of 8
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NATIONAL NEED FOR UTILIZING NUCLEAR ENERGY FOR PROCESS HEAT GENERATION*
Wallace R. Gambill
Chemical Technology Division
Paul R. Kasten
Central Management Offices
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831
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Fossil fuel resources are used for generating
large amounts of energy, with oil and gas being burned
in large quantities to supply heat for many industrial
processes and for residential, commercial, and
industrial space heating. In general, there appears
to be limited resources of oil and natural gas
available to countries after the year 2000, and it is
Important to conserve these resources for easing
future international energy concerns, as well as for
use in transportation and in production of chemicals.
The future production of synthetic fuels from oil
shale and coal also appears important similar reasons,
and such production will require large quantities or
process heat. A number of reactor types can be
utilized to generate nuclear "process heat; those
considered here are light water reactors (LWRs), heavy
water reactors (HWRs), gas-cooled reactors (GCRs), and
liquid metal reactors (LMRs). LWRs and HWRs can
generate process heat up to 280"C, Li~fs up to 540*C,
and GCRs up to 9500C. based on the studies here, the
total estimated United States process heat market
corresponds to 310-370 (w(t) after the year 2025, with
75-120 GW(t) for process steam (temperatures < 260 C),
20-35 GW(t) for process heat (temperatures greater
than 2b00C but less than 5400C), 30 GW(t) tor district
heating, 30 GW(t) for resource recovery, 85 GW(t) for
chemicals production, and 70 GW(t) for synttietic fuels
production. Tile above reactor types can contribute to
these different markets in accordance with their
coolant temperature capability.
*Research sponsored by the Division of HTR
Development, Office of Converter Reactor Deployment,
U. S. Department of Energy, under Contract No.
DE-AC5--840R21400 with Martin Marietta Energy Systems,
While nuclear energy has been utilized rather
significantly for electricity production, it has round
little application to date tor process heat use.
Nonetheless, there is a substantial potential market
for use of nuclear process heat and such use could
conserve important quantities of fossil tuels. of the
primary fossil fuels, i.e., coal, oil and natural gas,
coal is the most abundant, and oil and natural gas are
the most convenient to utilize. It is anticipated
that oil and natural gas, which are largely equally
convenient to use, will be in relatively short supply
sometime after the year 2000, and that their prices
will rise significantly. At the present time, aoout
90Z of the non-electrical energy consumed for
industrial and residential and/or commercial needs in
the United States is generated from oil and natural
gas. Lf tnis continues until after the year 2000,
there will be upward pressure on the price and
availability or oil and natural gas, which could have
a large detrimental effect on national ealance-of-
payment conditions, on "energy independence" status,
and on the well-being of a number ot other nations, as
well deprive some nations of "convenience" fuels.
While coal could be an alternative to oil and natural
gas as an energy source, burning of coal (and other
fossIl fuels to a lesser extent) generates
environmental concerns related to air quality, acid
precipitation, and carbon dioxide formation. The use
of nuclear energy for displacing oil and natural gas
is advantageous since the environmental effluents
associated with nuclear p.wer plants are very low, and
much lower than those from fossil power plants.
Further, replacement or oil and natural gas with
nuclear fuel Leads to more essential uses for fossil
fuels, such as for transportation and for the
production of chemicals. Overall, it is the need to
conserve oil and natural gas in the future, and to
decrease the environmental impact of energy use, which
drives the need for nuclear process heat.
2: ILUTIhN OF ThiS 00CUMT IS UNLMITED
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Gambill, W.R. & Kasten, P.R. National need for utilizing nuclear energy for process heat generation, article, January 1, 1984; Tennessee. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1210499/m1/1/: accessed April 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.