The industry is a large scale consumer of fossil fuels. It contributes to a major part to the carbon footprint worldwide. In The Netherlands one of the possibilities to reduce this carbon footprint is to increase the proportion of sustainable gas in the distribution network. Gasses that have little or no emission of environmental pollutants.
Hydrogen (H2) seems to be able to fulfil an important role in the energy transition. Hydrogen has a CO2 free combustion, although it does form nitrogen oxide (NOx) when mixed with atmospheric air for combustion. It has a higher burning rate and a much lower caloric value per m3 than natural gas. It needs ignition and a specific mixing ratio with air in order to combust, just like natural gas. Hydrogen is considered to be as safe as natural gas. It can be produced sustainably from water with wind or solar energy when the generated electricity is not needed elsewhere, and stocked for later use.
Another possibility to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels may be the use of electricity. However, today’s distribution network for electricity is not fit to deliver the high capacities that industrial heating processes need. And adjusting the network in order to match these capacities is very expensive. The distribution network for gas can be made fit for hydrogen with minor adjustments. So hydrogen seems to be a good replacement for natural gas. But combustion installations will have to be adjusted to it’s burning characteristics.
Zantingh participates in the SBIR-Phase 2 project of DNV-GL GCS (Gas Consulting & Services). Research and calculation models prove that it will be possible to develop a burner that can either combust natural gas, hydrogen or a mixture of both. This burner will have a combustion management system that sets the fuel-air ratio according to the gas quality which is measured beforehand. The combustion process is thus optimized for each hydrogen – natural gas proportion. As a result owners of natural gas combustion installation don’t need to switch to hydrogen at once.
The goal of the project is to develop the previously described burner and build a “Proof of Concept”. The first tests made with a Zantingh gas burner show that the flame characteristics change significantly by adding hydrogen. They give promising results with regard to the applicability.