The most abundantly available fossil fuel on Earth is coal. For countries like China, the USA, South Africa, or Germany, coal plays a dominant role as energy resource. The introduction of nuclear energy into coal refinement processes would be a significant contribution to the saving of resources, lowering specific carbon emissions and reducing dependencies on oil and natural gas imports. In Germany, comprehensive R&D activities were conducted within the project “Prototype Plant Nuclear Process Heat” (PNP) to investigate the utilization of nuclear energy from a pebble-bed HTGR in both steam-coal gasification and hydro-gasification. A major component to be newly developed was the gas generator. Its operation on semitechnical scale confirmed the feasibility of allothermal, continuous coal gasification under nuclear conditions. A key problem remained the selection of appropriate high temperature materials for gas generator and other high temperature heat exchanging components. The project was accompanied by comprehensive safety studies targeting tritium contamination and consequences of potential explosions of flammable gas mixtures. Future activities could take benefit from a reevaluation of the studies conducted in the past by comparing HTGR process heat applications against current technologies. Fossil fuel market conditions and environmental effects shall be considered. Superior safety features and high reliability are prerequisites for the introduction of nuclear process heat and nuclear combined heat and power.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.