New Possibilities: Surplus energy bringing fresh water and hydrogen fuel, for industry, agriculture and hope to arid climates
by Matthew Formby
The offshore, underwater, nuclear power plant could make use of the ocean water around it; desalinating water with excess heat, and hydrolyzing with excess energy (as demand changes rapidly throughout the day). Distilled water could be used immediately for the crew or primary cooling flow (cooling depends heavily on what kind of reactor is used). Not just immediately, stable production of distilled water is invaluable in arid climates or for humanitarian efforts in war or disaster-stricken areas. Recovering hydrogen gas when energy demand is low can negate the cost efficiency problems that hydrogen faces as an energy source. While hydrogen is immensely useful for industrial applications and as fuel, the amount of energy needed to make hydrogen gas tends to be more than it returns. At the same time, a problem with nuclear is that it can't quickly change production to match demand changes--making a fossil fuel like coal or petroleum necessary to match rapid increases or decreases in demand. It's possible that, with diverting excess energy to hydrolysis, a nuclear power plant could respond to rapid changes in one or both directions. The limits of each energy source complements the other so well that we could see a more rapid shift from fossil fuels in both grid and transportation energy. This isn't entirely egalitarian for the company either; it would mean that the power plant's efficiency (a factor of how much of the plant's capacity is used on average) would be much higher than normal. Using a submarine power plant as a steady source of distilled water and hydrogen gas would bring relief where it's needed the most, help the planet, and even be a profitable decision.