In a fully decarbonised energy system, with large elements of intermittent electrical energy, hydrogen used in hydrogen-fired gas turbines is seen as the only swing producer capable of releasing significant amount of clean responsive power to the grid.

The HyPowerGT project aims at moving technological frontiers to enable gas turbines to operate on hydrogen, in compliance with NOx regulations, using neither catalysts, nor diluents or thermodynamic efficiency reduction. The core technology is a novel dry-low emission combustion technology (H2 DLE) able of handling any blend of natural gas and hydrogen up to pure H2. To reduce the thermal driven NOx, the reaction temperature of flame is lowered by means of an enhanced premixing of fuel and air, still maintaining the flashback margin required to operate with fuel composition up to 100% H2. The development strategy is supported by an incremental verification approach, lowering through experimental testing the development risks, time, and costs.

Besides ensuring low emissions, the H2 DLE combustion technology offers fuel flexibility and response ability on a par with modern gas turbine engines fired with natural gas.

The DLE H2 combustion technology will be fully retrofittable to existing gas turbines, thereby providing opportunities for refurbishing existing assets in industry: in the power sector, including Combine Heat and Power, and in mechanical drives applications. The DLE H2 technology adheres to the strictest specifications for fuel flexibility, NOx emissions, ramp-up rate, and safety, stated in the EU Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda 2021-2027.

The HyPowerGT project is an inter-disciplinary innovation action aimed at improving the new DLE H2 technology from a current maturity level TRL5 via TRL6 up to the demonstration in a system prototype at TRL7. Emphasis is placed on ensuring operational, mechanical, and thermophysical integrity, and on a framework for safety handling pertaining to H2 gas-turbine operations fuelled with mixtures of NG and hydrogen in the full range 0-100%. Pre-normative guidelines for risk and safety handling of H2 gas turbines will be developed. The qualifying demonstration at TRL7 will be carried out in a 16.9 MWe NovaLTTM16 gas-turbine engine.

In preparation for commercialisation, a roadmap for positioning H2 gas turbines towards the European energy transition will be developed with a timeline 2030-2050 pursuant to the EU Green Deal. Emphasis will be put on retrofitting the existing fleet of gas-turbine engines with the DLE H2 system, in particular in industries involved in combined heat and power operations, where the yield can be optimised via cogeneration.

NovaLTTM16 100% H2 ready gas turbine, installed on the Baker Hughes test bench at Florence site (IT). Image courtesy of Baker Hughes. (*)

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