Researchers operate a world-first pure hydrogen gas turbine

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Gas turbines are found in airplanes, trains, ships, generators, pumps, compressors, and all sorts of other places. They can run on a variety of fuels, but some 90% of them currently run on natural gasa fossil fuel that produces carbon dioxide when you burn it, while escaping into the atmosphere wherever you take it out of the ground, to create greenhouse conditions about 80 times worse than CO2 over a 20-year period .

In the race to zero emissions by 2050, gas turbines will have to adapt or die, and several organizations, including General Electric, have sought to convert them to burn green hydrogen as a clean fuel source. GE has more than 100 turbines running on at least 5% hydrogen fuel by volume, and he says he’s on track for 100%.

Researchers from the University of Stavinger in Norway say they beat everyone, claiming they had a 100% hydrogen gas turbine running since mid-May this year. The university operates its own micro gas power plant and its gas turbine produces heat, electricity and hot water for hydronic heating.

“We set a world record for burning hydrogen in micro gas turbines. No one had been able to produce at this level before,” says Professor Mohsen Assadi, leader of the research team. “The efficiency of operating the gas turbine with hydrogen will be a bit less. The big gain, however, is being able to use the infrastructure that already exists.” The team’s research not only focused on tuning the combustor for hydrogen, but adapting the fuel system and existing natural gas infrastructure to handle this very different gas.

Eventually, these types of projects will lead to conversion kits capable of keeping older turbine equipment alive while moving it to zero-emission fuel sources. But before this stuff becomes economically viable, the price of green hydrogen needs to come down significantly, as carbon taxes are applied to cheaper fossil fuel solutions.

Source: University of Stavanger

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