Enchanted Rock, a microgrid provider, announced that the company has received a $2.1 million grant through the Hydrogen Blending and Lower Oxides of Nitrogen Emissions in Gas-Fired Generation (HyBLOX) program administered by the California Energy Commission (CEC).
Under this grant, Enchanted Rock and the University of California Riverside (UCR) will aim to develop and advance technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions in natural gas generators to help California meet its renewable energy and zero carbon resource goals.
“This is an exciting opportunity to further advance the potential use of hydrogen fuel blends for commercialization and market adoption,” said Thomas McAndrew, founder and CEO of Enchanted Rock. “We believe in using the cleanest fuel available without compromising on reliability or performance for our customers and are dedicated to helping California, and the nation, achieve its climate and energy goals.”
With this grant, Enchanted Rock says its goal is to further advance its reciprocating engine technology, attempting to identify the optimal blend of natural gas and hydrogen to operate the generator while maximizing performance and minimizing emissions.
As part of the grant, UCR’s College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) will take a role in the emissions and combustion performance measurement scope. The UCR team will characterize pollutant formation when using higher concentrations of hydrogen in natural gas and will attempt to better understand the potential to reduce harmful pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions from engines operated with zero-carbon fuels. Palomar College will host an additional field demonstration site.
“Hydrogen is one of the ‘low-hanging fruit’ solutions to decarbonize our transportation system and other sectors where emissions are hard to abate, and it can serve as a zero-carbon green fuel for internal combustion off-road and highway engines,” said Professor Georgios Karavalakis, who is leading the UCR team. “Enchanted Rock is a strong and reliable partner who values research and collaboration with academic institutions; our common goal is to enable innovative technologies for green and sustainable power and provide clean air to all Californians.”
Hydrogen produces zero carbon emissions when combusted as a fuel source and is therefore seen as a potential option to decarbonize the power sector. Hydrogen is also seen as essential for decarbonizing difficult-to-abate sectors of the U.S. economy, such as heavy-duty manufacturing, chemical production, and heavy-duty transportation.
California isn’t alone in its effort to study and deploy hydrogen blending. Other recent actions across the country include:
- In October 2023, Indiana-based utility NiSource announced the launch of a multi-phase hydrogen blending project, using a blending skid in a controlled setting to mix hydrogen and natural gas at precise levels to determine optimal blend percentages.
- In June 2023, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) received an American Public Power Association Energy Innovator Award for a hydrogen blending project at the utility’s Brentwood Power Station. The project, spanning from 2021 to 2022, burned blended hydrogen for a total of 12.5 hours at varying load ranges and hydrogen-natural gas blends. The results showed a decrease in CO2 emissions of as much as 20 percent at peak hydrogen levels. NYPA said it did not need to perform any modifications to the gas turbine.
- Linden Cogen, a 972 MW natural gas-fired cogeneration plant located in Linden, New Jersey, completed the commissioning of its hydrogen blending initiative in June 2023, which aims to reduce carbon emissions from power and steam generation. With modifications that include PSM’s FlameSheet system, Linden Cogen is now taking refinery off-gas containing hydrogen produced by the Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery and blending it with natural gas to fuel the unit 6 gas turbine.
- In May 2023, Dominion Energy launched a hydrogen blending pilot in Ohio focusing on hydrogen use in homes and businesses. Dominion Energy Ohio hopes to prepare its entire distribution system to be hydrogen-ready by 2030.
- Watch our one-on-one interview with EPRI’s Dr. Andrew Maxson on a hydrogen blending test in Michigan, which saw a successful 25% hydrogen by-volume blend in a grid-connected reciprocating engine.
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