Monday, July 15, 2024

Eco-friendly Hydrogen Combustor Ensures Lower CO2 Emissions

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Researchers from Korea have developed a hydrogen co-firing combustor for gas turbines to reduce carbon dioxide emissions

Eco-friendly hydrogen hydrogen mixed fuel combustor (Credit: Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM))

To overcome climate change, there is a global need for decarbonization in all sectors that produce carbon dioxide (CO2). To meet this requirement, the research team led by Dr. Minkuk Kim, head of the Department of Zero-carbon Fuel and Power Generation at the KIMM Institute of Carbon Neutral Energy Machinery has developed an eco-friendly combustor for gas turbines with 30% hydrogen co-firing that is used in power generation.

Using hydrogen as a fuel has a few drawbacks such as the risk of high temperatures and flashbacks. Hence to overcome this, KIMM advanced a fuel injection method, including fuel split, staging, and modifying fuel holes. This improved combustor was implemented with a heavy-duty gas turbine developed by Doosan Enerbility. As a result, NOx and combustion instability might have been suppressed to the same level as the original LNG gas turbine while burning a mixture of 30% hydrogen fuel.

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Previously many efforts were made to promote the development of hydrogen co-firing combustors, but performance verification was difficult because there were no proper combustion test facilities in South Korea. Hence, the combustor developed by KIMM was transferred to the German Aerospace Center (DLR) during the development process and successfully passed combustion tests in a high-pressure environment. These conditions mimic the actual operating conditions of the gas turbine, and its performance was verified accordingly. The development of hydrogen co-firing technology by domestic research institutes and its application to domestic gas turbines shows a way to achieve carbon neutrality in South Korea.

KIMM President Sang Jin Park stated, “To transition to an eco-friendly and carbon-free energy society, it is essential to develop hydrogen fuel conversion technology for medium and large-sized gas turbines and to conduct demonstrations at power plants. Currently, developments of combustion and turbine systems are in their final stages. A decision of turbine manufacturers Doosan Enerbility and Korea East-West Power Company to test the new engine’s performance has made it possible to secure domestic hydrogen turbine technology that much sooner.” He also emphasized, “For domestic technology to be commercialized promptly without failing, the government’s interest and support in selecting a demonstration site are necessary. This is because such a process is otherwise impossible through the will of the private sector alone due to the nature of the power generation industry.”

President Park added, “Unlike LNG heavy-duty gas turbine in South Korea, which began as a fast follower, this hydrogen combustor is technologically equivalent to those from leading companies. If we can accelerate its commercialization through demonstration projects will help pave the way for South Korea’s next-generation new growth industry.”

The research reduced CO2 emissions by 10.4% compared to 100% LNG power generation. KIMM envisions increasing the percentage of hydrogen contents in fuel by over 50% thereby 21.4% reduction of CO2 by 2024. They are also focusing on developing a 100% carbon-free hydrogen combustion technology by 2030.


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