Process analysis and aspen plus simulation of nuclear-based hydrogen production with a copper-chlorine cycle
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Thermochemical processes for hydrogen production driven by nuclear energy are promising alternatives to existing technologies for large-scale commercial production of hydrogen, without dependence on fossil fuels. In the Copper-Chlorine (Cu-Cl) cycle, water is decomposed in a sequence of intermediate processes with a net input of water and heat, while hydrogen and oxygen gases are generated as the products. The Super Critical Water-cooled Reactor (SCWR) has been identified as a promising source of heat for these processes. In this thesis, the process analysis and simulation models are developed using the Aspen PlusTM chemical process simulation package, based on experimental work conducted at the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). A successful simulation is performed with an Electrolyte Non Random Two Liquid (ElecNRTL) model of Aspen Plus. The efficiency of the cycle based on three and four step process routes is examined in this thesis. The thermal efficiency of the four step thermochemical process is calculated as 45%, while the three step hybrid thermochemical cycle is 42%, based on the lower heating value (LHV) of hydrogen. Sensitivity analyses are performed to study the effects of various operating parameters on the efficiency, yield, and thermodynamic properties. Possible efficiency improvements are discussed. The results will assist the development of a lab-scale cycle which is currently being conducted at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), in collaboration with its partners.