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2022 Megginson The New Alchemy making fuel from water and air

The production of green ammonia is a key component of the decarbonisation plans for
international shipping. While atomic electric propulsion will decarbonise the largest vessels,
this will still leave a large number of sub-15 MW propulsion power vessels requiring a pathway
to zero-emissions.
Current plans for the provision of zero-carbon ammonia rely on the unproven technology of
carbon capture or the limited scalability of production from intermittent renewable electricity.
The decarbonisation of other difficult to abate sectors such as chemical and steel manufacture
as well as aviation will also require the manufacture of a substantial amount of these green
e-fuels.
CORE POWER’s concept is an offshore facility partnering marinised atomic power with an
offshore ammonia production facility, which will create green ammonia from abundant
seawater and air. The next generation of reactors will far exceed the safety, security, and
efficiency of the pressurised water reactors (PWR) currently in widespread deployment. CORE
POWER has partnered with Terrapower in the development of a specifically marinised molten
salt reactor (MSR) which uses high assay low enriched uranium (HALEU) to produce heat that
can then be converted to electricity. CORE POWER modelling shows that with current
technology it is possible to produce 1 million tonnes of ammonia per year using 1.2 GW of
electric power, reducing to 0.9 GW by 2050. This is the equivalent of 440,000 tonnes of very
low sulfur fuel oil (VLFSO) and it would allow the decarbonisation of a significant number of
vessels. The flexible nature of these systems will mean it will also be possible to provide a
mixture of electricity, hydrogen, and ammonia for other applications, including chemical
manufacturing and aviation.
The key step of the ammonia production process in terms of both the footprint of the plant
as well as its overall electricity usage is the electrolysis step, where water is turned to Hydrogen
and Oxygen. Current technology points towards the use of proton exchange membrane (PEM)
electrolysers, however the development of high-temperature systems offers an interesting
prospect. These would use a significant fraction of heat rather than electricity, improving the
overall efficiency of the system. The other components of the plant are very mature, and any
further improvement will have only marginal effects on overall efficiency.
The proposed facility would constitute a floating marine “atomic plug”, housing the reactor
and the power conversion system. The ‘atomic plug’ will output a mixt of electricity and heat,
depending on the actual requirements. The ‘atomic plug’ would be sited relatively close to the
offshore ammonia production facility and storage tanks. These facilities will be built on the
experience of the Oil & Gas industry, which has an exceptional track record in terms of safety
and cost reduction for offshore installations.
The production of green ammonia at sea using advanced atomic power is superior to both
production from renewables and non-marine atomic systems. Atomic power has the highest
capacity factor of any power generation method whereas intermittent renewables, wind and
solar have the lowest. This reliability and dispatchability makes advanced atomic the ideal
power source for e-fuel production.
Moving the reactors to sea will allow for a large reduction in costs due to the lack of a need
for expensive civil engineering as well as opening the possibility of shipyard construction. By
moving to the production of modular nth of a kind rather than the unique first of a kind reactors
,that has kept nuclear generation prices elevated up until now, it should be able to achieve
significant cost savings. From a technical perspective, it will also allow the use of the ocean as
a heat sink for the reactor as well as the possibility of moving the reactors depending on the
demand.
Floating atomic power is the best option for scalable, secure, and truly green ammonia
production.

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