San Diego Business Journal

San Diego-based General Atomics is teaming with the South Korean government and South Korean industrialists to develop a way to generate large amounts of hydrogen using a gas-cooled nuclear reactor.

South Korean officials were in San Diego this week to discuss the Nuclear Hydrogen Joint Development Center, a binational research-and-development program that will be located in San Diego and the South Korean city of Daejeon.

The partnership could give General Atomics the ability to compete for a reactor-building program at the Idaho National Laboratory, said Arkal Shenoy, director of General Atomics' gas-cooled reactor program. The national lab's reactor is expected to be a high-temperature, gas-cooled model that would produce both electricity and hydrogen.

Shortages and environmental concerns related to fossil fuels have caused some thinkers to propose an economy based on hydrogen power. Yet General Atomics notes current hydrogen production is based primarily on fossil fuels. Nuclear power is seen as an alternative way to generate hydrogen.

GA's South Korean partners are the Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co. Ltd. of Changwon, and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, an arm of the government located in Daejeon.

General Atomics has upward of 2,700 employees, including those who work in its unmanned aircraft operation, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. The company is privately held and does not disclose revenues.

Brad Graves