The Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (AHTR) for Producing Hydrogen to Manufacture Liquid Fuels

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Conventional world oil production is expected to peak within a decade. Shortfalls in production of liquid fuels (gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel) from conventional oil sources are expected to be offset by increased production of fuels from heavy oils and tar sands that are primarily located in the Western Hemisphere (Canada, Venezuela, the United States, and Mexico). Simultaneously, there is a renewed interest in liquid fuels from biomass, such as alcohol; but, biomass production requires fertilizer. Massive quantities of hydrogen (H2) are required (1) to convert heavy oils and tar sands to liquid fuels and (2) to produce fertilizer for ... continued below

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Forsberg, C. W.; Peterson, P. F. & Ott, L. October 6, 2004.

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Conventional world oil production is expected to peak within a decade. Shortfalls in production of liquid fuels (gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel) from conventional oil sources are expected to be offset by increased production of fuels from heavy oils and tar sands that are primarily located in the Western Hemisphere (Canada, Venezuela, the United States, and Mexico). Simultaneously, there is a renewed interest in liquid fuels from biomass, such as alcohol; but, biomass production requires fertilizer. Massive quantities of hydrogen (H2) are required (1) to convert heavy oils and tar sands to liquid fuels and (2) to produce fertilizer for production of biomass that can be converted to liquid fuels. If these liquid fuels are to be used while simultaneously minimizing greenhouse emissions, nonfossil methods for the production of H2 are required. Nuclear energy can be used to produce H2. The most efficient methods to produce H2 from nuclear energy involve thermochemical cycles in which high-temperature heat (700 to 850 C) and water are converted to H2 and oxygen. The peak nuclear reactor fuel and coolant temperatures must be significantly higher than the chemical process temperatures to transport heat from the reactor core to an intermediate heat transfer loop and from the intermediate heat transfer loop to the chemical plant. The reactor temperatures required for H2 production are at the limits of practical engineering materials. A new high-temperature reactor concept is being developed for H2 and electricity production: the Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (AHTR). The fuel is a graphite-matrix, coated-particle fuel, the same type that is used in modular high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (MHTGRs). The coolant is a clean molten fluoride salt with a boiling point near 1400 C. The use of a liquid coolant, rather than helium, reduces peak reactor fuel and coolant temperatures 100 to 200 C relative to those of a MHTGR. Liquids are better heat transfer fluids than gases and thus reduce three temperature losses in the system associated with (1) heat transfer from the fuel to the reactor coolant, (2) temperature rise across the reactor core, and (3) heat transfer across the heat exchangers between the reactor and H2 production plant. Lowering the peak reactor temperatures and thus reducing the high-temperature materials requirements may make the AHTR the enabling technology for low-cost nuclear hydrogen production.

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INIS; OSTI as DE00840501

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  • Americas Nuclear Energy Symposium (ANES 2004), Miami, FL (US), 10/03/2004--10/06/2004

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  • Report No.: none
  • Grant Number: AC05-00OR22725
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 840501
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc785083

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  • October 6, 2004

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  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • Nov. 3, 2016, 7:32 p.m.

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Forsberg, C. W.; Peterson, P. F. & Ott, L. The Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (AHTR) for Producing Hydrogen to Manufacture Liquid Fuels, article, October 6, 2004; Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc785083/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.