Rolls-Royce reports successful H2 engine tests

By Mike Brezonick16 January 2023

Rolls-Royce announced that it has conducted successful tests of a 12-cylinder gas variant of its mtu Series 4000 L64 engine running on 100% hydrogen fuel. The tests, carried out by Rolls-Royce Power Systems, showed “very good characteristics in terms of efficiency, performance, emissions and combustion,” the company said, adding that they mark an important step towards the commercial introduction of hydrogen solutions to meet the sustainable energy demand.

Rolls-Royce mtu hydrogen engine Rolls-Royce Power Systems said tests of an mtu Series 4000 gas engine has shown good results in terms of efficiency, power, emissions and combustion when operating on 100% hydrogen. (Photo: Rolls-Royce Power Systems)

“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 gen-sets and combined heat and power plants, said Tobias Ostermaier, president – Stationary Power Solutions at Rolls-Royce Power Systems.”

The first installation of mtu engines running on 100% hydrogen is already planned for 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.

“We see hydrogen as one of the central elements of the energy transition,” said Dr. Jörg Stratmann, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “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 terms of excess energy storage, at low demand times, electricity from wind or solar energy systems could be used to power an electrolyzer to convert water to hydrogen. The hydrogen could then be used as fuel in any number of applications.

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. When using green hydrogen, mtu engines can be operated in a CO2-neutral manner in the future, the company said. And for installed gas engines, Rolls-Royce offers a conversion solution.

“We are very pleased with the rapid progress,” said Andrea Prospero, an engineer at Rolls-Royce responsible for the development of the hydrogen engine. “The very low engine emissions are well below the strict EU limits, no exhaust gas aftertreatment is required.”

Due to the different combustion behavior of hydrogen compared to natural gas, some engine components including fuel injection, turbocharging, piston design and control, were modified in the test engine. However, by using established 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.

Duisport, one of the world’s largest inland ports, is working with several partners to build a hydrogen-based supply network for its new terminal, ready 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 2 MW – as well as three mtu fuel cell systems with a total installed capacity 1.5 MW.

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

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