Addition of hydrogen (H2), produced from excess renewable electricity, to natural gas has become a new fuel type of interest for gas turbines. The addition of hydrogen extends the existing requirements to widen the fuel flexibility of gas turbine combustion systems to accommodate natural gases of varying content of higher hydrocarbons (C2+). The present paper examines the performance of the EV and SEV burners used in the sequential combustion system of Alstom’s reheat engines, which are fired with natural gas containing varying amounts of hydrogen and higher hydrocarbons. The performance is evaluated by means of single burner high pressure testing at full scale and at engine-relevant conditions.
The fuel blends studied introduce variations in Wobbe index and reactivity. The latter influences, for example, laminar and turbulent burning velocities, which are significant parameters for conventional lean premixed burners such as the EV, and auto-ignition delay times, which is a significant parameter for reheat burners, such as the SEV. An increase in fuel reactivity can lead to increased NOx emissions, flashback sensitivity and flame dynamics. The impact of the fuel blends and operating parameters, such as flame temperature, on the combustion performance is studied. Results indicate that variation of flame temperature of the first burner is an effective parameter to maintain low NOx emissions as well as offsetting the impact of fuel reactivity on the auto-ignition delay time of the downstream reheat burner. The relative impact of hydrogen and higher hydrocarbons is in agreement with results from simple reactor and 1D flame analyses. The changes in combustion behaviour can be compensated by a slightly extended operation concept of the engine following the guidelines of the existing C2+ operation concept and will lead to a widened, safe operational range of Alstom reheat engines with respect to fuel flexibility without hardware modifications.