Baker Hughes, Snam complete hydrogen tests

By Keefe Borden07 December 2022

Baker Hughes NovaLT 12 at a test bench in Florence, Italy. (Photo: Baker Hughes.)

Baker Hughes and Snam have successfully tested a blend of natural gas and hydrogen in two of their turbines at one of Snam’s natural gas compression stations in Istrana, Italy.

The companies used a blend of 10% hydrogen and 90% natural gas on two different turbines, the NovaLT 12 and the PGT25. The Istrana plant is one of 13 compression stations along Italy’s gas transportation network, and is the first to use the NovaLT 12. Baker Hughes designed and built the NovaLT 12 in Italy.

The companies also tested a hydrogen blend on the PGT25, which was originally designed for operation with natural gas. Snam has 39 PGT25 turbines installed at its boosting and storage stations in Italy, which account for about 70% of its total power capacity (1325 MW.)

The introduction of hydrogen in increasing quantities in the current fleet (from the 10% blend tested up to volumes between 15% and 20%) will allow for a greater reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the use of natural gas alone, Baker Hughes said.

Based on the operating data for 2021, a permanent use of 10% of hydrogen in all the Snam group’s PGT25 turbines would make it possible to avoid almost 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, further reducing the already limited impact of natural gas supply.

Snam plans to continue its collaboration with turbine suppliers with the aim of extending hydrogen compatibility tests to its entire turbocompressor fleet. The investigations in progress are aimed at verifying, “in-the-field,” both the reaction of the various components from a metallurgical point of view, and the required maintenance and efficiency of the turbines in the presence of hydrogen, as well as compliance with stringent safety and environmental impact requirements, the companies said.

In the future, these tests could lead to the development of a consistent standard for the design of all future compression units used by Snam.

The field tests also included Saipem and Max Streicher as technology partners, and Siad, which supplied the hydrogen.

In 2019, Snam was the first in Europe to experiment the injection of hydrogen into a section of its high-pressure gas transport network, first at 5% and subsequently at 10%. In 2020, tests of the NovaLT 12 turbine with hydrogen up to 10% blended with natural gas were carried out at the Baker Hughes plant in Florence, Italy.

The NovaLT12 turbine is the first in a family of Baker Hughes high-performance “hydrogen ready” turbines, which are capable of burning natural gas and hydrogen blends, from 5% up to 100% hydrogen. Snam is also conducting studies on the compatibility of its storage sites with hydrogen, with the goal to complete the assessment of its entire infrastructure.

The NovaLT turbines are suitable for a variety of applications, including pipeline, industrial power generation, and onshore/offshore production. Compared to other technologies in their various classes, each NovaLT provides lower consumption, wider operational flexibility, lower maintenance intervals, and emissions as low as single digit ppm NOx, Baker Hughes said.

In July 2020, Baker Hughes and Snam tested the world’s first “hybrid” hydrogen turbine at Baker Hughes’ facility in Florence, Italy—the first time a gas infrastructure operator has tested this type of turbine for its existing assets.

Italy’s Snam is a midstream company which operates a network of pipelines 41000 km in Italy, Austria, France, Greece and the UK. It manages 3.5% of the world’s gas storage capacity and is one of the main operators of LNG regasification terminals.

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