India developing new nuclear reactor for producing hydrogen
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) of Mumbai, India is currently developing a pair of new types of nuclear reactors, specifically targeted at hydrogen production. The biggest difference from existing reactors is the temperature of the reactor core. The new reactors have a core temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius, compared to 300 degrees for current reactors. The prototypes are expected to be running by 2012 with commercial versions coming on-line by 2017.
One of the new reactor types will be powered by a combination of thorium and uranium. This is strategically important to India since they have 40 pecent of the world's known thorium reserves. The reactor coolant leaves the core at a temperature greater than 1,000 degrees Celsius and is used to produce hydrogen by thermo-chemically splitting water. Thermo-chemical splitting has an efficiency rate of 40-57 percent for producing hydrogen, while high temperature steam electrolysis ranges from 27-48 percent efficient, and standard electrolysis is about 27 percent. The prototype reactors will have a capacity of 600 MW and can produce hydrogen and desalinate water at night when power demand is lower. The Indians are also working on several other types of reactors, including both Advanced Heavy Water Reactor and Light Water Reactors.
[Source: Business Standard]
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