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GE is ready with a gas turbine for hydrogen

Replaces natural gas to produce more heat energy, less emissions

As the world (and India) moves towards a hydrogen economy, US multinational GE says it has done its bit by being ready with a gas turbine that can work on hydrogen instead of natural gas — or even a fuel that has 50 per cent hydrogen. According to sources in GE, a “new technology” developed by it will offer the performance of advanced “pre-mixer combustion systems with fuel flexibility”. Alok Nanda, CTO, GE South Asia, and CEO, GE India Technology Centre, told Quantum recently that GE has over 180,000 hours of operating on a fuel that contained up to 95 per cent hydrogen by volume. GE has also operated 100 per cent hydrogen-fired gas turbines.

Gas turbines burn a gaseous fuel to produce electricity. They feed the high-pressure, hot gas stream in turbine components and the blades spin to generate power.

GE has developed a ‘premixed combustor’ in which hydrogen and air are mixed in an optimal ratio to get more heat energy. Emissions are low because the fuel is premixed well, and the combustor releases thermal energy with less nitrogen oxides — 25 ppm, which is well within norms. Further, these 3D-printed premix combustors have tubes for better fuel mixing and reduction of emissions.

GE sources say the company’s latest gas turbine (9HA 0.2) uses advanced premix combustors that burn up to 50 per cent hydrogen by volume blended with natural gas with technology pathway to 100 per cent. The net efficiency of a power plant powered by the gas turbine in a combined-cycle mode is more than 64 per cent. In comparison, the average car engine only manages 40 per cent efficiency.

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