Nine Mile Point starts supplying hydrogen

08 March 2023

The USA's first-of-its-kind 1 MW demonstration scale, nuclear-powered clean hydrogen production facility has begun operating at Constellation's Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant in Oswego, New York. The company said the new facility will help demonstrate the potential for hydrogen to power a clean economy.

Nine Mile Point (Image: Constellation)

In 2022, the US Department of Energy (DOE) approved the construction and installation of an electrolyser system at Nine Mile Point with an award of USD5.8 million. 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. The Hydrogen Generation System at Nine Mile Point is one of four projects supported by DOE to demonstrate clean hydrogen production at commercial nuclear power plants.

The Nine Mile Point Hydrogen Generation System's containerised Proton Exchange Membrane uses 1.25 megawatt of zero-carbon energy per hour to separate hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water, producing 560 kilograms of hydrogen per day. This is sufficient to meet Constellation's need for on-site hydrogen demand to help cool the power plant. The low-temperature electrolysis leverages Nine Mile Point's existing hydrogen storage system. The plant has previously relied on trucked-in deliveries of hydrogen made from fossil fuels.

The Clean Hydrogen Generation System at Nine Mile Point (Image: Constellation)

Constellation said the facility will also prepare for possible large-scale deployments at other clean energy centres in the company's fleet that would couple clean hydrogen production with storage and other on-site uses.

As part of its broader decarbonisation strategy, Constellation is currently working with public and private entities representing every phase in the hydrogen value chain to pursue development of regional hydrogen production and distribution hubs and has committed to invest USD900 million up to 2025 for commercial clean hydrogen production using nuclear energy.

"Hydrogen will be an indispensable tool in solving the climate crisis, and Nine Mile Point is going to show the world that nuclear power is the most efficient and cost-effective way to make it from a carbon-free resource," said Constellation President and CEO Joe Dominguez. "In partnership with DOE and others, we see this technology creating a pathway to decarbonising industries that remain heavily reliant on fossil fuels, while creating clean-energy jobs and strengthening domestic energy security."

Commenting on the start-up of the Nine Mile Point hydrogen production facility, US Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Kathryn Huff said: "This accomplishment tangibly demonstrates that our nation's existing reactor fleet can produce clean hydrogen today.

"DOE is proud to support cost-shared projects like this to deliver affordable clean hydrogen. The investments we're starting to make now through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act will even further expand the hydrogen market to create new economic and environmental benefits for nuclear energy."

According to the DOE, about 95% of the hydrogen produced in the USA is currently sourced from fossil fuels.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News