Mobile Nuclear-Hydrogen Synergy in NATO Operations


An uninterrupted chain of energy supplies is the core of every activity, without exception for the operations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A robust and efficient energy supply is fundamental for the success of missions and a guarantee of soldier safety. However, organizing a battlefield energy supply chain is particularly challenging because the risks and threats are particularly high. Moreover, the energy supply chain is expected to be flexible according to mission needs and able to be moved quickly if necessary. In line with ongoing technological changes, the growing popularity of hydrogen is undeniable and has been noticed by NATO as well. Hydrogen is characterised by a much higher energy density per unit mass than other fuels, which means that hydrogen fuel can increase the range of military vehicles. Consequently, hydrogen could eliminate the need for risky refuelling stops during missions as well as the number of fatalities associated with fuel delivery in combat areas. Our research shows that a promising prospect lies in the mobile technologies based on hydrogen in combination with use of the nuclear microreactors. Nuclear microreactors are small enough to be easily transported to their destinations on heavy trucks. Depending on the design, nuclear microreactors can produce 1–20 MW of thermal energy that could be used directly as heat or converted to electric power or for non-electric applications such as hydrogen fuel production. The aim of the article is to identify a model of nuclear-hydrogen synergy for use in NATO operations. We identify opportunities and threats related to mobile energy generation with nuclear-hydrogen synergy in NATO operations. The research presented in this paper identifies the best method of producing hydrogen using a nuclear microreactor. A popular and environmentally “clean” solution is electrolysis due to the simplicity of the process. However, this is less efficient than chemical processes based on, for example, the sulphur-iodine cycle. The results of the research presented in this paper show which of the methods and which cycle is the most attractive for the production of hydrogen with the use of mini-reactors. The verification criteria include: the efficiency of the process, its complexity and the residues generated as a result of the process (waste)—all taking into account usage for military purposes.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Poland

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