Largest commercially operated engine runs on hydrogen in world first

The Wärtsilä engine ran on a 25 vol% hydrogen-blended fuel.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Hydrogen image.jpg
The Wärtsilä power plant


The technology group Wärtsilä and WEC Energy Group have joined forces to successfully test the capabilities of a Wärtsilä engine running on a 25 vol percent hydrogen-blended fuel.

This event marks the testing of the largest commercially operated flexible balancing engine ever to run on a hydrogen fuel blend, a world-first achievement. 

This is according to a press release by the groups published on Thursday.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) also participated in the tests and confirmed the feasibility of blending hydrogen with natural gas for use in an existing Wärtsilä engine. 

The tests lasted three days and demonstrated the capability of the engine to co-fire hydrogen blends, showcasing clear improvements in engine efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, while staying compliant with NOx emissions. 

“These tests provide clear evidence that Wärtsilä’s engine technology can deliver future-proof power solutions that make a huge contribution towards decarbonised operations,” said Anja Frada, Chief Operating Officer, Wärtsilä Energy.

“The results of the testing with a hydrogen/natural gas blended fuel mix have been outstanding. We continue developing and futureproofing our engines to run on sustainable fuels and expect to have an engine and power plant concept for operating with pure hydrogen available by 2026."

Supporting a net-zero future

EPRI Vice President of Energy Supply and Low-Carbon Resources Neva Espinoza added that the organization is accelerating deployment of a full portfolio of clean energy technologies to support a net-zero future.

 “This demonstration project with Wärtsilä and WEC Energy Group is significant in showing the potential of hydrogen blending in natural gas-fired engines. The learnings from this project will be shared with the energy industry to further progress toward deep decarbonization targets,” he said.

The use of renewable energy assets, such as wind and solar, is on the rise creating opportunities to produce hydrogen for long-term energy storage from excess renewable energy. Hydrogen is particularly eco-friendly as it burns without producing any carbon species including CO2. 

“We’re very pleased to take a leading role exploring the potential of this technology as we focus on providing customers with affordable, reliable and clean energy,” said in the statement Gale Klappa, Executive Chairman — WEC Energy Group. 

“As we bring more renewable energy online, we must ensure that we can keep the lights on when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. The results of this project are a strong indicator that these dispatchable units can run on very low- and no-carbon fuels.”

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