H2Tech - Q4 2022 - 28

Eight guidelines for planning a H2
pilot at a power generation facility
H2 is emerging as a pivotal fuel source
for utilities seeking to decarbonize their
existing power generation assets, and it
is easy to understand why. H2
is a cleanburning
fuel that can be produced from
a variety of zero- or low-carbon sources.
When combusted, it releases no carbonrelated
emissions, making it a front-runner
to reduce the volume of natural gas
relied on as fuel. It also has the potential
to help existing power generation assets
transition into the rapidly evolving decarbonization
However, before committing funds to
retrofits, utilities must first
full-scale H2
consider some fundamental questions.
How will plants respond when H2
is introduced
as a fuel source? What modifications
will the system require to utilize
? How will the introduction of H2
performance and emissions?
To learn the answers to these and other
questions, some utilities have begun pilot
programs to blend H2
fuel into the natural
gas supply at existing gas turbine and reciprocating
engine sites. These short-duration
tests are designed to assess everything
from equipment efficiency to the viability
of environmental sustainability goals.
The protocols for these pilot tests are
complex. Even a 1-wk pilot test can take
1 yr to plan, design and implement. Success
depends, in part, on the ability to integrate
the testing infrastructure with the
existing operational system. The following
are several key items to consider when
developing a H2
pilot test (FIG. 1).
Safety comes first. H2
has some unique
properties that must be considered. It
is nontoxic, colorless and odorless. Because
it is the first element on the periodic
table, it is approximately 14 times
lighter than air. H2
is also flammable in
a wide range of air concentrations, making
it easier to ignite than other fuels, if
not handled safely. Interestingly, if a H2
source ignites, the flame burns on the
ultraviolet portion of the light spectrum,
making it nearly impossible to see. This
factor could result in requirements for
special flame detector equipment.
Other precautions are also essential
for a safe and successful pilot test. For example,
consider that the fuel systems at
many existing power generation facilities
were originally designed only for natural
gas. Because H2
is introduced into
leak detecthese
systems. Due to the potential presence
of leaks, appropriate H2
tion will be necessary in any enclosed areas
or areas with a potential ignition source.
Safety starts with planning and engineering
design, including the performance
of a hazard and operability (HAZOP)
study and other safety reviews, long before
FIG. 1. Eight key items to consider when
developing a H2
pilot test.
28 Q4 2022 | H2
is introduced into the facility. A
completed safety review helps facilitate
assessment of the system design, operating
and safety procedures, and emergency
N. KLEIN and M. REUSSER, Burns & McDonnell, Overland Park, Kansas
response plans. Additionally, the safety
review assesses whether applicable codes
and standards, such as the National Fire
Protection Association (NFPA) 2-Hydrogen
Technologies Code, are being followed
If an identified hazard cannot be fully
mitigated by elimination, substitution,
engineering controls or administrative
controls, personal protective equipment is
used as the last line of defense when working
with or around H2
Original equipment manufacturer
(OEM) coordination is essential.
OEMs for gas turbines and reciprocating
engines have the greatest knowledge
about the H2
fueling capabilities and requirements
of their equipment. OEMs
can apply insights garnered from burning
-blended fuels
in a lab environment to better understand
the impact that H2
have on equipment performance and
combustion emissions. Their input is essential
in developing effective test plans,
including the rate at which the blend ratio
of H2
to natural gas is adjusted.
OEMs are eager to participate in these
molecules are significantly
smaller than methane molecules, leakage
may occur through various flanges, gaskets
and valves when H2
discussions since they have a stake in the
results. It is valuable to obtain more data
about how in-service units function when
an alternate fuel is introduced over a range
of operating scenarios, both when retrofitting
installed equipment and when designing
future engine and turbine models
with 100% H2
Determine the source and type of H2
For these projects, H2
is typically delivered
by trailer in either a liquid or gaseous
form. Onsite H2
generation is possible but
pipeline may also
usually not feasible for most pilot projects.
Delivery via a local H2
be an option if a plant is close to the supplier's
distribution system, but this option

H2Tech - Q4 2022

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