A Lookback at Turbo Expo 2023: NETL Works on Hydrogen Value Chain

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With Turbo Expo 2024 in London, held June 24 – 28, on the horizon, we’re looking back at insights from our interview with NETL at last year’s meeting.

During Turbo Expo 2023 in Boston, Turbomachinery International spoke with Dr. Nate Weiland, senior fellow at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), about the lab's work on the hydrogen value chain, including hydrogen blending, storage, hydrogen carriers such as ammonia, and more.

Q: What are the most recent, noteworthy developments at the NETL?


Weiland: We’re doing a lot of work on multiple segments across the hydrogen value chain, including low-carbon hydrogen production via gasification, natural gas reforming, and solid oxide electrolysis. We’re also looking at hydrogen transport and storage infrastructure: Can you blend it into the natural gas pipeline? What are some sensors needed for hydrogen detection? In a large-scale hydrogen economy, you’ll need large-scale hydrogen storage, so we’re looking at underground storage in salt reservoirs, depleted oil and gas reservoirs, hard rock caverns, and more. There’s a lot of complicating factors such as microbes under the surface, some of which might convert your hydrogen back into natural gas. Finally, on the end-use side, we’re looking at the usage of hydrogen in power generation—can you burn hydrogen in a gas turbine? We’re also looking at hydrogen carriers such as ammonia—can you burn that in a gas turbine or other engine?

Q: In addition to hydrogen research, what are some other focus areas for NETL?

Weiland: We are a government-owned, government-operated national laboratory, so we have in-house R&D as well as program management functions. On the research side, we’re working on gas-turbine combustion with hydrogen and ammonia, rotating detonation engine combustion, aerothermal cooling, and supercritical CO2 power cycles. On the project management side, folks take a look at projects doing hydrogen combustion in gas turbines at various scales, particularly in aeroderivative and large-frame turbines. From an OEM and international perspective in the gas turbine community, we also look at areas that may require funding for further research in the future.