Wärtsilä To Test Hydrogen-Blended Fuel In Michigan Power Plant

The 55-MW plant currently operates with three Wärtsilä 50SG engines running on natural gas.

Wärtsilä, in collaboration with WEC Energy Group (WEC), the Electric Power Research Institute, and Burns & McDonnell, will carry out hydrogen fuel testing at the A.J. Mihm power plant in Michigan. The project supports WEC’s goal to reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its electric generating fleet by 60% by the end of 2025, by 80% by the end of 2030 from 2005 levels, and to be net carbon neutral by 2050.

The 55-MW plant currently operates with three Wärtsilä 50SG engines running on natural gas. The parties will aim for testing fuel blends of up to 25 vol% hydrogen mixed with natural gas. According to Wärtsilä, the engines can operate with this level of hydrogen blended with gas with little to no modification needed. Though Wärtsilä engines can be operated on even higher hydrogen-blend levels, these tests will be restricted to the limit of 25 vol% hydrogen for natural gas systems, according to the international equipment standard IEC/EN 60079-20-1.

One engine will be selected for the test program, during which time it will continue to deliver power to the grid. For defined engine load levels, the hydrogen content within the fuel will be gradually increased to a maximum of 25 vol%. Measurements of the engine’s performance will be made throughout the testing. Wärtsilä has already successfully carried out engine tests at its testing facilities in Vaasa, Finland, and Bermeo, Spain, to assess the optimum engine parameters for operating with hydrogen fuel.

“These hydrogen tests reinforce the viability of the internal combustion engine as a future-proof technology that plays a key role in decarbonizing the power industry,” said Jon Rodriguez, director of engine power plants for Wärtsilä North America. “We have long had a focus on creating solutions that enable zero-carbon power generation and are excited to begin this hydrogen testing project in the United States as a natural next step in developing our products to meet customer needs for a decarbonized future. Our engines already have the flexibility for both balancing the input of renewables into the power system, and baseload generation with a continuously increasing range of fuels.”