A novel ship propulsion concept employs natural gas to reduce ship emissions and improve overall ship propulsion efficiency. This concept proposes a serial integration of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) and a natural gas engine, while anode-off gas (gas at the fuel cell exhaust) is used in the natural gas engine. This study focusses on SOFC-gas engine integration by experimentally analyzing the effects of adding hydrogen, which is the main combustible component of the fuel cell anode-off gas, in marine natural gas engines. The overall challenge is to employ the anode-off gas to improve the performance of marine natural gas engines. To study the effects of anode-off gas combustion in natural gas engines, experiments with hydrogen addition in a marine natural gas engine of 500 kW rated power were performed. Natural gas was replaced with 10 % and 20 % of hydrogen, by volume, without any penalties in terms of output power.
We found that the high combustion rate of hydrogen improved combustion stability, which allowed for better air-excess ratio control. Thus allowing leaning to higher air-excess ratios and extending the, otherwise, limited operating window. Hydrogen addition also improved brake thermal efficiency by 1.2 %, while keeping NOx emissions below the maritime emission regulations. The improvement in engine efficiency with a larger operating window may help improve the load-taking capabilities of marine natural gas engines.