George. H. Miley and P. Joshi Shrestha University of Illinois, Urbana. IL 61801
William C. Gough, FMBR, Los Altos, CA 94024

Nuclear sources, both fission and fusion, are key approaches for large scale production of hydrogen for the future hydrogen economy. Most work to date has focused on use of heat from a nuclear plant for either high temperature electrolysis or thermo-chemical conversion. Here, we revisit the fusion approach using a radically different process where water is injected directly into an exhaust plasma flow, much in the manner suggested originally for the fusion torch concept for waste recycling 1 . The water is ionized in the flowing plasma and separated into H2 and O2 using an electrostatic direct collection section. Other fuel species are also separated out with their excess kinetic energy being directly converted to electricity by the electrostatic converter. Our study assumes an jet mode IEC fusion reactor since its natural exhaust plasma flow is ideally suited for such operation. This approach offers several key advantages. Very pure H2 and O2 are obtained with high conversion efficiency. Also, since excess (waste) energy is directly converted to electricity, the overall dual electricalhydrogen plant efficiency is very competitive.

This basic concept also appears attractive for select ore processing applications. The ore is introduced into the flowing plasma jet and, after ionization, mass analyzed into corresponding products for use and distribution. The advantage, compared to present electrical or gas fired furnaces, is the ability to achieve an improved separation with greatly increased purity. Also, green-house gases and other wastes are minimized. Again, the plant would be a hybrid unit, producing electricity along with processed materials from the ores. Preliminary evaluations indicate that this process could be very competitive economically

1. W. Gough and B. Eastlund, “–The Fusion Torch-Closing the Waste Cycle from Use to Reuse,” WASH-1132, Division of Research, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Washington, D.C. (1969).

Updated April 11, 2009.