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Hydrogen stored in Depleted Uranium and used for decarbonising steel

By EDF | Posted August 08, 2022

Electrolytic hydrogen production from nuclear and renewable generation has a key role in decarbonising more challenging applications for industry, transport and heating. EDF in the UK is developing relationships with stakeholders for the production, distribution and consumption of hydrogen and the R&D UK Centre is leading on key projects with the newly formed Zero Carbon Hubs team in Smart Customers. The Zero Carbon Hubs team’s role is to couple low carbon generation with existing and new technology to decarbonise demand. The Zero Carbon Hubs team has just completed a feasibility study for a project on hydrogen storage with depleted uranium and is starting a project to switch some natural gas supply to hydrogen for a British Steel “reheat” furnace in Teesside. 

As the hydrogen ecosystem expands storage will become an increasingly important element to ensure resilience of supply, minimise hydrogen generation capacity and optimise prices for flexibility. The HyDUS (Hydrogen Depleted Uranium Storage) project explored storage that used the qualities of a waste nuclear material. Depleted uranium can form a metal hydride with hydrogen and is currently well established as a storage method for the hydrogen isotope tritium used for fusion reactors. The potential advantages for volume density, purity and long life were considered in a feasibility study and a bid proposal was submitted to fund a demonstration facility for phase 2 of the research funding. 

Low carbon hydrogen from renewable and nuclear generation offers a solution for the steel industry to decarbonise and is being developed in a project with British Steel in Teesside. The facility in Teesside “reheats” cast steel products and rolls them into finished products for construction such as long beams. This project is about supporting a natural gas consumer to develop the technical, safety, commercial and operational case for a fuel switch to hydrogen and potentially supporting a customer for the larger Tees Green Hydrogen project being developed by Hynamics and EDF Renewables in the region. 

Creating strong relationships with hydrogen consumers and storage operators will be key to expanding zero carbon hydrogen for EDF in the UK and wider EDF group. Supporting innovation with partners will help develop a robust knowledge of hydrogen supply, distribution, storage and use that can deliver for our customers in this expanding industry.