There are several growing needs for hydrogen: in the near-term for the upgrading of heavy petroleum, as a chemical feedstock, and for the production of fertilizer; in the mid-term for the production of synthetic fuels for transportation; and in the long-term as a transportation fuel through the use of fuel cells.

High-temperature electrolytic water-splitting supported by nuclear process heat and electricity has the potential to produce hydrogen with an overall system efficiency of 45 to 50 %, while avoiding the challenging corrosive conditions of the thermochemical processes.

A program is under way at INEEL to develop materials and techniques for high-temperature electrolytic production of hydrogen using solid-oxide cells. Solid-oxide fuel cells have been developed primarily for power production using hydrogen or hydrocarbons as a fuel.