South Korea and U.S. Will Cooperate on Nuclear Hydrogen Production

South Korea and U.S. Will Cooperate on Nuclear Hydrogen Production


Sep 13, 2005

SAN DIEGO, CA September 12, 2005 -- The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute of Daejeon, Republic of Korea, the Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. Ltd. of Changwon, Republic of Korea, and General Atomics of San Diego, California today announced a joint research and development program for the large-scale production of hydrogen using nuclear energy.

Meeting in San Diego today, the three parties outlined plans to establish a Nuclear Hydrogen Joint Development Center (NHJDC) located in Daejeon and San Diego which will cooperate in the development of the high temperature gas-cooled reactor and nuclear hydrogen production technologies for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The parties noted that the Republic of Korea has embarked on accelerated development of hydrogen production technology using gas-cooled reactors, and that the program will cooperate with General Atomics in both the generation of high-temperature process heat from gas-cooled nuclear reactors, and the sulfur-iodine (S-I) technology for hydrogen production.

A significant "hydrogen economy" is predicted to reduce future dependence on petroleum and limit pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrogen is an environmentally attractive fuel, but current hydrogen production is based primarily on fossil fuels.

"The new project is part of an ongoing effort by the Republic of Korea under a multinational effort to build a fourth-generation nuclear power system that makes use of the very high temperature gas-cooled reactor," according to South Korea's Ministry of Science and Technology.

The recently passed U.S. energy bill authorizes $1.3 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) to construct a new experimental reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory, which is expected to be a high temperature gas-cooled reactor for producing electricity and hydrogen. Over the last three years General Atomics working with INL, under a DOE Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI) grant, has developed two conceptual designs of hydrogen-producing Modular Helium Reactors (H2-MHR), one using the S-I process and the second, high temperature electrolysis.

General Atomics has been developing helium-cooled reactor technology since the1950s, with demonstration nuclear power plants having operated in Pennsylvania and Colorado. A Gas Turbine - Modular Helium Reactor (GT-MHR) plant is now under joint design by GA and Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy. In these developments, GA is also working with a Utility Advisory Board composed of nine leading nuclear utility companies.

At the time of its formation, the Utility Advisory Board stated that the GT-MHR can be used for commercial electric power generation with 50 percent higher efficiency than current reactors and is considered an inherently safe design because the plant can remove excess heat without damaging the nuclear fuel elements if the reactor loses its coolant. The "naturally safe" reactor does not rely on active systems, such as pumps and valves, to maintain high levels of safety.


Doug Fouquet

Public Relations

General Atomics

PO Box 85608

San Diego, CA 92186-5608

(858) 455-2173

Jong-Kyun Park, Ph.D.

Vice President

Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute

Daejeon City, Korea