European researchers convert gas turbines to green hydrogen

27 October 2023 16:38

Saillat-sur-Vienne - Engie, Siemens, and other HYFLEXPOWER collaborators successfully tested a gas turbine that was converted to run on green hydrogen. The technology promises to create a new backup energy source for industrial plants that want to expand their consumption of renewable energy.

The European Union-funded HYFLEXPOWER project has scored a success. Researchers affiliated with French multinational utility company Engie, German Siemens Energy, and other HYFLEXPOWER collaborators have demonstrated a real-world test of using green hydrogen to power a gas turbine, an Engie press release issued October 26 said.

“The demonstrator has proven that state-of-the-art turbines equipped with low-emission dry combustion technology, like the one here developed by Siemens Energy, can be powered by 100 percent hydrogen, natural gas, and all intermediate blends,” the release said.

Taking place in the Smurfit Kappa paper mill in Saillat-sur-Vienne near Limoges in France, the test and its findings could help accelerate the decarbonization of energy-intensive industries like refineries, cement plants, steel production, and aviation and maritime transport.

Initiated in 2020, the project seeks to make new industrial systems that use renewable energy like solar and wind to generate electricity for electrolysis, a process that creates green hydrogen. Factories can then easily store this green hydrogen as a power source to make up for periods without sunlight or breezes. At present, however, most factory turbines run on gas. But now they can be modified to run on green hydrogen.

“The HYFLEXPOWER project demonstrates that hydrogen can be used as a flexible energy storage medium,” said a Siemens press release on October 13.

Among the concerns when converting the turbines was that hydrogen’s combustion is faster and hotter than natural gas. The researchers adapted the turbines with safety measures that improved their material resistance.

The European Commission funded two-thirds of the project’s €15.2 million budget. ce/jd

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