Rolls-Royce SMR puts case for producing hydrogen

14 June 2023

UK-based Rolls-Royce SMR says a joint feasibility report produced with Sumitomo Corporation shows its small modular reactors have an advantage over other available sources for the production of hydrogen.

How a Rolls-Royce SMR might look (Image: Rolls-Royce SMR)

Rolls-Royce SMR said that Sumitomo Corporation, the global business and investment company headquartered in Japan, would "use the report to support site suitability work and develop its understanding around the potential for utilising" the firm's SMRs "alongside clean hydrogen production facilities in the UK".

The study, which has not been published, "analysed the use of both heat and power from the Rolls-Royce SMR to run electrolysers to produce low-carbon hydrogen". The company says that its "compact footprint and flexible modular design means it can be located alongside energy intensive industrial processes, including hydrogen production. "For the production of hydrogen via Solid Oxide Electrolytic Cell technology it is possible to use the thermal output of the power plant to radically boost the overall efficiency of the hydrogen production cycle," it added.

Harry Keeling, Rolls-Royce SMR’s head of industrial markets, called it an "exciting move forward " for the firms: "The potential for the Rolls-Royce SMR to be used for industrial purposes is one of its greatest strengths - being able to deliver large amounts of low-carbon, always-on power, but being flexible enough to be located close to where industry needs it. The production of low-cost hydrogen is a critical step on the pathway to decarbonising our wider society."

The Rolls-Royce small modular reactor, a 470 MWe design based on a small pressurised water reactor, has progressed to the second stage of the UK's Generic Design Assessment, the only SMR to reach that stage so far. Although a shortlist of potential sites have been identified for its SMRs, the UK government has launched a competitive process to "select the best small modular reactor technologies to back". The second phase - the down-selection process - is due to be launched in the summer, with an ambition to assess and select the leading technologies by Autumn.

There are dozens of different SMRs in development around the world, with their potential to produce heat and low-carbon hydrogen to help heavy industry to decarbonise breing one of the driving factors behind predictions of a large market for them in the coming years.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News