GE Gas Power and Shell Global Solutions, a prominent supplier of liquefied natural gas for more than 50 years, have signed a development agreement to pursue potential pathways aimed at reducing the carbon intensity of Shell’s LNG supply projects around the world. With global LNG demand projected to almost double by 2040, decarbonisation is becoming a critical issue.

The largest source of emissions in an LNG facility stems from firing natural gas in the power generation and mechanical drive gas turbines. Therefore one of the possible paths to decarbonise LNG production is to use hydrogen as a low carbon fuel in these engines. However, the source and nature of this fuel also matters, and Shell’s Blue Hydrogen Process is a prominent technology that can deliver what is said to be the lowest carbon intensity fuel of its type, with technologies tested and commercially proven at a large scale that have been used in various industries for many decades.

The deep decarbonisation of LNG export facilities presents both technical and economic challenges, which need to be addressed to realise such an ambition. “Becoming a net-zero emissions energy business means we need to explore a range of avenues that have the potential to help us, our partners and customers reduce emissions” said Alexander Boekhorst, VP of gas processing and conversion technology at Shell.”

GE's B&E class heavy-duty gas turbines can already operate today on 100% hydrogen emitting up to 25ppm NOx with the use of water in diffusion combustors. As part of this development agreement, GE is targeting gas turbine technology with the capability to operate on 100% hydrogen without the use of water while still maintaining NOx emissions.

The new DLN combustor technology is intended to become the backbone of new retrofittable system solutions for low-carbon operation of gas turbines while providing the reliability and availability required for LNG facilities. Dry operation also represents significant savings in water use and conservation: up to 32 000 litres of water per hour are saved using DLN systems versus comparable alternatives.

Image: The Wojciech Wrzesien LNG vessel (Credit: Shutterstock)