Mechanical Engineering


UCL joins forces with Siemens for a hydrogen gas turbine project

29 May 2020

Professor Ramanarayanan Balachandran and Dr Midhat Talibi are part of an international group working on an EU Horizon 2020 research project, with funding totalling €15.2 million.

Diagram showing hydrogen can be produced and stored from renewable electricity and then added with up to 100 percent to the natural gas currently used with combined heat and power plants.

UCL Mechanical Engineering academics, Professor Ramanarayanan Balachandran and Dr Midhat Talibi are part of an international 9-member consortium led by Siemens Gas and Power working on HYFLEXPOWER, an EU Horizon 2020 research project (GA884229) with a total funding of €15.2m and duration of 4 years.

HYFLEXPOWER stands for HYdrogen as a FLEXible energy storage for a fully renewable European POWER system and will demonstrate for the first time, a fully integrated, industrial scale ‘Power-to-H2-to-Power’ power plant using an advanced high-hydrogen dry-low emissions gas turbine. Hydrogen is one of the most promising alternative energy vectors for future decarbonisation strategy as it does not produce any carbon emissions when burned, and can potentially be stored and transported in gas distribution networks.

The consortium members include Siemens Gas and Power, Engie Solutions, Centrax, ARTTIC, German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and four academic partners: University College London, University of Duisburg-Essen Germany, Lund University Sweden and National Technical University of Athens.

The objective of the project is to demonstrate carbon-free energy production from surplus renewable energy at the Engie Solution’s operated thermal power plant in Saillat-sur-Vienne, France. A Siemens electrolyser will be employed to generate green hydrogen from excess renewable energy which will then be stored on-site. A Siemens industrial gas turbine (SGT-400) will be upgraded for up to 100% hydrogen operation to convert the stored hydrogen into electrical and thermal energy.

UCL will be closely working with Siemens Gas and Power in understanding and mitigating challenges related to high-hydrogen combustion in gas turbine engines. The UCL team will particularly focus on combustion-generated oscillations, which is a common problem in hydrogen flames but can have serious implications in gas turbine combustors.

Dr Ertan Yilmaz, Strategy Manager – Gas Turbine Technology at Siemens and the project coordinator, said, “HYFLEXPOWER will be the first-ever demonstration of a fully integrated power-to-H2-to-power industrial scale power plant including an advanced high-hydrogen gas turbine with dry-low emissions technology.”

Prof. Ghenadie Bulat, who is a Product Owner at Siemens and is leading the development of hydrogen gas turbines in this project, said, “This project is a culmination of more than 10 years of joint effort between Siemens Energy and UCL towards carbon-free fuels and will strengthen our academic and industrial cooperation.”

Prof. Rama Balachandran, who leads the project at UCL, said, “I am delighted that UCL will take part in this important activity towards decarbonising the power generation industry utilising renewable energy. Achieving 100% hydrogen combustion in gas turbines is very challenging due to high flame speeds and flame temperatures in addition to combustion instability problems. The fundamental research at UCL, in collaboration with Siemens, will address the above challenges, paving the way for a tangible implementation strategy to incorporate hydrogen combustion in next-generation gas turbines.”