Capstone, Argonne, Team On Hydrogen Microturbine

By Mike Brezonick24 August 2020

Capstone Turbine Corp. a global supplier of microturbine energy systems, announced today that through a collaboration with the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, it has achieved significant progress in the development of a hydrogen operable microturbine product.

Development testing performed at Argonne demonstrates that a blend of up to 70% hydrogen to natural gas can be successfully operated in an off-the-shelf Capstone microturbine, before the addition of specialized hardware or software. The next stage in the testing will be to replace injectors with Capstone’s patented hydrogen compatible design, which is intended to ensure combustion stability and flashback margin. The testing will proceed to higher hydrogen levels until the program’s goal of 100% is reached.

“The initial goal of the testing is to establish the capabilities of our current off-the-shelf production systems,” commented Don Ayers, Capstone Turbine’s senior director for Engineering and Quality. “There is a broad global initiative to decarbonize electricity generation through renewable natural gas or RNG by blending natural gas and hydrogen in existing pipelines. The Argonne Lab tests are showing that we have a significant margin in our standard product because of our robust designs and existing design margin. Our microturbines, unmodified, can handle any of the blends currently being discussed for pipeline injection around the world,” added Mr. Ayers.

“The recent experiments at Argonne demonstrated the resiliency of existing Capstone power generators to bridge the gap between grey-hydrogen and green-hydrogen use,” said Muni Biruduganti, principal Research Engineer at Argonne National Lab.

Microturbines are positioned as a distributed energy source to be located at the source of hydrogen generation. The technology can be deployed immediately, without the need to wait for extensive infrastructure modernization and hydrogen specific upgrades.

“As a thought-leader in the energy sector, Capstone recognized years ago that hydrogen would play an important role as a key part of the future of renewable, green energy landscape,” said Darren Jamison, Capstone’s president and chief executive officer. “Microturbines are a proven technology on alternative fuels like biogas and butane. Renewable natural gas showcases how Capstone’s innovative and adaptable microturbine technology can continue to grow into new segments of the expanding green energy economy. Hydrogen microturbines are the perfect complement for the intermittent nature of wind and solar power, making them an ideal component of the modern, clean and green microgrid.”

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