The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) charges the Department of Energy (DOE) with developing and demonstrating the technical and economic feasibility of using high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) technology for the production of electricity and/or hydrogen. The design, construction and demonstration of this technology in an HTGR proto-type reactor are termed the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) Project. Currently, parallel development of three hydrogen production processes will continue until a single process technology is recommended for final demonstration in the NGNP — a technology neutral approach. This analysis compares the technology neutral approach to acceleration of the hydrogen process downselection at the completion of the NGNP conceptual design to improve integration of the hydrogen process development and NGNP Project schedule. The accelerated schedule activities are based on completing evaluations and achieving technology readiness levels (TRLs) identified in NGNP systems engineering and technology roadmaps. The cost impact of accelerating the schedule and risk reduction strategies was also evaluated. The NGNP Project intends to design and construct a component test facility (CTF) to support testing and demonstration of HTGR technologies, including those for hydrogen production. The demonstrations will support scheduled design and licensing activities, leading to subsequent construction and operation of the NGNP. Demonstrations in the CTF are expected to start about two years earlier than similarly scaled hydrogen demonstrations planned in the technology neutral baseline. The schedule evaluation assumed that hydrogen process testing would be performed in the CTF and synchronized the progression of hydrogen process development with CTF availability.

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