The “H2-IGCC” research project, which is supported by the EU under the FP7 R&D funding allocation, focuses on developing gas turbine technology optimised for use in next generation IGCC+CCS plants.

The goal is to enable combustion of undiluted hydrogen-rich syngas with low NOx emissions while also achieving high fuel flexibility. The challenge is to have a stable and controllable gas turbine running on hydrogen-rich syngas with emissions and processes similar to current state-of-the-art gas turbines designed to run on natural gas. The IGCC turbine would be able to use natural gas as back-up fuel without adversely affecting reliability and availability.

In the limited number of IGCC projects to date the gas turbines have tended to be of the E class, which are rugged in design and able to tolerate the relatively harsh operating conditions associated with synthesis gas, with corrosive trace gas species and particulates. However these machines operate at reduced firing temperatures relative to the state of the art, reducing efficiencies.

The overall objective of the H2-IGCC project is to develop the technologies that will allow state of the art, high efficiency, low emissions turbines to be used in IGCC applications.

The project brings together 24 partners from industry and academia, and is co-ordinated by the Brussels-based European Turbine Network, which represents the European gas turbine technology community for power generation, mechanical drive and marine applications.

The H2-IGCC project consists of four sub-projects (SP), with the following aims:

COMBUSTION (SP1) – Safe and low emission combustion technology for undiluted, hydrogen-rich syngas will be developed and demonstrated. In order to achieve this, problems resulting from the differences in combustion properties between hydrogen and natural gas need to be addressed and solved.

These are higher flame speed, higher adiabatic flame temperature, drastically reduced auto-ignition delay times and the large increase in volumetric fuel flow rate of hydrogen compared with natural gas.

MATERIALS (SP2) – Improved materials systems with advanced coatings able to protect hot path components base materials against different temperatures and compositions of exhaust gases will be delivered.

Cost-effective materials and coatings technologies will be developed to overcome the component life-limiting problems of overheating and of hot corrosion resulting from the higher temperatures and residual contaminants in the syngas, including validation of materials performance data, life prediction and monitoring methods. Simulation tools for estimating performance and lifetime of materials systems will also be enhanced to suit the new operating environments.

TURBOMACHINERY (SP3) – Modified compressor, turbine and turbine cooling designs will be delivered, with the aim of enabling switches between fuels without compromising efficiency, avoiding the compressor instabilities that can arise from increased fuel mass flow rate.

The turbine design has to cope with a different enthalpy drop, while the turbine cooling system has to cope with the higher specific heat of the exhaust gases. This will result in increased operating temperatures of the components in comparison with natural gas-fired gas turbines. Potential turbine vibration problems will also be addressed.

SYSTEM ANALYSIS (SP4) – System analysis will evaluate the optimum IGCC plant configurations and set up guidelines for optimised full scale integration providing a detailed system analysis that generates realistic techno-economic results for future gas turbine based IGCC plants with CCS.

In particular, the compatibility of the combustion technology with the materials and turbomachinery requirements will be optimised.

The project kicked-off in November 2009. In the first six months, a report on the state of the art in IGCC technology has been produced and published on the project website ( Academic research and industrial testing activities have been started in the combustion, materials and turbomachinery fields, while common terms for boundary conditions were identified in order to work towards the optimum IGCC plant configurations.