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

This will be one of the earliets cases where hydrogen is tested for the purpose of reducing the carbon footprint of an existing gas-fuelled power plant delivered by Wärtsilä. 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% (by volume) hydrogen mixed with natural gas. The Wärtsilä engines can operate with this level of hydrogen blended with gas with little or no modification. Wärtsilä says that its engines can be operated at higher hydrogen-blend levels, these tests will be restricted to the limit of 25 % hydrogen for natural gas systems, according to the international equipment standard IEC/EN 60079-20-1.

“These hydrogen tests reinforce the viability of the internal combustion engine as a future-proof technology that plays a key role in decarbonising the power industry” commented Jon Rodriguez, director, Engine power plants, Wärtsilä North America.

One engine will be selected for the test programme, during which time it will continue to deliver power to the grid. For defined engine load levels, the hydrogen volume within the fuel will be gradually increased to a maximum of 25%. Measurements of the engine’s performance will be made throughout the testing.

Wärtsilä has engine generating sets operating successfully on a natural gas and hydrogen blend in a new build power plant at an offshore floating testbed in Singapore.