Rolls-Royce makes hydrogen-fueled gas engine a reality

Rolls-Royce has performed with successful testing of a 12-cylindar mtu 4000 L64 gas engine running entirely on 100% hydrogen fuel – paving the way for the company to further develop mtu gensets and cogeneration units for 100% hydrogen use.

The testing was conducted by the company’s Power Systems business unit, and per officials, “showed very good characteristics in terms of efficiency, performance, emissions and combustion” as Rolls-Royce moves ahead toward a commercial introduction of hydrogen solutions to meet the demand of customers for more sustainable energy supply.

With success under its belt, the company has already planned the first installation of mtu engines running on 100% hydrogen: the enerPort II lighthouse project in the German inland port of Duisburg, as part of the development of a climate-neutral energy supply for a new container terminal.

“For several months, the mtu gas engine has been undergoing bench testing and continuous improvement in terms of efficiency, performance, emissions and combustion using 100% hydrogen as fuel,” the company said. “With green hydrogen, these mtu engines can be operated in a CO2-neutral manner in the future.

For gas engines already installed, Rolls-Royce offers a conversion solution. Engineer Andrea Prospero noted the very low engine emissions are well below the strict EU limits, with “no exhaust gas aftertreatment is required,” she added.

Because of varying combustion behaviors with hydrogen as compared to natural gas, Rolls-Royce noted some engine components, including fuel injection, turbocharging, piston design and control, were modified in the test engine.

However, by using proven technologies within the Power Systems’ portfolio, such as mtu turbochargers, injection valves and engine electronics and control, the development of the engine to use hydrogen was advanced quickly and efficiently.

Stationary Power Solutions, Rolls-Royce business unit Power Systems president Tobias Ostermaier said: “This engine will serve the market demand for hydrogen solutions in the energy transition and will be available to our customers as a reliable and clean power source for gensets and combined heat and power plants.”

Added Rolls-Royve Power Systems CEO Jörg Stratmann: “We see hydrogen as one of the central elements of the energy transition. It can be used for both storage of excess energy and as a fuel, not only for engines but fuel cells and cogeneration plants to generate climate-neutral electricity and heat.”

In times of low demand and high renewable energy generation from wind or solar, for example, the excess energy can be channeled through an electrolyzer to convert water to hydrogen, which can later be used as fuel in any number of applications.

Looking ahead to its first deployment, the company is targeting a CO2-neutral power supply at Duisport, one of the world’s largest inland ports.

At current, several partners are working to build a hydrogen-based supply network for a new terminal set for operation in 2024.

“In the future, most of the electricity required by the port itself will be generated directly on site from hydrogen in a CO2-neutral manner. This will be achieved by two combined heat and power plants with mtu Series 4000 hydrogen engines (with a total installed capacity of 2MW) as well as three mtu fuel cell systems (with a total installed capacity 1.5MW),” company engineers said.

As part of its sustainability program, Rolls-Royce is realigning the product portfolio of Power Systems towards more sustainable fuels and new technologies that can further reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 


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