Conversion of a Gas Turbine Engine to Operate on Lean-Premixed Hydrogen-Air: Design and Characterization

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

The continued use of fossil fuels along with a rise in energy demand has led to increasing levels of carbon emissions over the past years. The purpose of this research was to design a lean premixed hydrogen fuel system that could be readily retrofit into an existing gas turbine engine to provide a clean renewable energy solution to this growing problem. There were major hurdles that had to be overcome to develop a hydrogen fuel system that would be practical, stable, and would fit into the existing space. High flame temperatures coupled with high flame speeds are major concerns when switching from jet fuel or natural gas to hydrogen. High temperatures lead to formations of pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and can potentially cause damage to critical engine components. High flame speeds can lead to dangerous flashbacks in the fuel premixers. Past researches have developed various hydrogen premixers to combat these problems. This research designed and developed new hydrogen premixers using information gathered from these designs and utilized new ideas to address their shortcomings.

A gas turbine engine was modified using 14 premixers and a matching combustor liner to provide lean operation with the existing turbomachinery. The engine was successfully operated using hydrogen while maintaining normal internal temperatures and practically eliminating the NOx emissions when compared to normal Jet-A operation. Even though full power operation was never achieved due to flashbacks in two premixers, this research demonstrated the feasibility of using lean-premixed hydrogen in gas turbine engines.

Hydrogen, Lean-Premixed, Gas Turbine