408881 Coproduction of Chemicals: Improving the Value Proposition of Nuclear Power

Tuesday, November 10, 2015: 3:15 PM
250B (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Eric W. McFarland1,2, Diego Schmeda-Lopez3, Tom McConnaughy3, Howard Fong3 and Phil Grosso3, (1)Chemical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, (2)Chemical Engineering, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia, (3)University of Queensland, Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation, St. Lucia, Australia

Use of the heat from nuclear reactions has been proven over decades of commercial operation to be a reliable large-scale carbon-free source of electricity. Modern reactor designs and advanced fuel cycles are resistant to weapons proliferation and contain inherently safe technologies with far less waste than conventional reactors.  Despite a consistent safety record and the lack of carbon-free base load alternatives, the nuclear power industry in western democracies has been unable to remain competitive with fossil fuel-based power production. There is little chance of a substantial global price on carbon emissions and there remain relatively high regulatory costs and delays associated with permitting and constructing nuclear power plants which are far higher than those for fossil fuel power facilities. Relatively few new nuclear plants are being commissioned and most are being replaced with cheaper fossil-fuelled alternatives. Nonetheless, uncertainties in the construction time and high capital cost reduce the investment incentive for plants producing low value electricity. We examine how to increase the revenue from nuclear power reactors by more than 100% through co-production of chemicals.  Specifically, halogen mediated oxidative dehydrogenation of light alkanes to produce olefins and sulfohalogenation will be described as an exemplars of chemical-nuclear process integration making use the unique features of nuclear reactions to improve the competitiveness of nuclear-based processes. Molten salt-based reactors are particularly well suited for chemical co-production.

Extended Abstract: File Not Uploaded