The World’s Largest Hydrogen Fuel Blending Project
on an Advanced Class Gas Turbine

How Georgia Power, Mitsubishi Power, Southern Company Research & Development, and EPRI were the first to validate 20% hydrogen fuel blending on an advanced class gas turbine in North America

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20% - A record breaking advancement and the next step in the decarbonization pathway

Located north of Atlanta, the Plant McDonough-Atkinson facility in Smyrna, Georgia, generates enough energy to power more than 1.7 million homes. To bring cleaner, more efficient energy to the area, the plant converted to natural gas in 2012, operating six M501G series gas turbines, along with three steam turbines in a 2-on-1 combined-cycle configuration. Now, as the next step in its decarbonization pathway, Plant McDonough-Atkinson has successfully demonstrated the feasibility of blending 20% hydrogen fuel in its advanced class gas turbines.

The significance of 20% hydrogen blending on a utility-scale gas turbine

The significance of 20% hydrogen blending on a utility-scale gas turbine

Hydrogen fuel in gas turbines is seen as a promising bridge to a low/zero carbon future power system. Since it contains no carbon, hydrogen as a fuel source directly reduces the carbon emitted by a gas turbine. However, much of the experience regarding hydrogen blending on gas turbines has been on older engines with diffusion flame combustion systems and operation at lower pressures and temperatures.

The successful hydrogen blending demonstration at Plant McDonough-Atkinson serves as an example to other CCGT power plants on how to safely increase hydrogen fuel blending percentages without impacting system reliability, all while reducing emissions and improving the turbine’s efficiency.

Deploying hydrogen blending combustion technology

As part of the demonstration, the gas turbine itself was not modified for testing as hardware modifications were limited to the fuel supply. A temporary, modular blending system was added to the natural gas supply to introduce H2 gas to the fuel sufficiently upstream of the gas turbine to allow for adequate mixing. 

Systems constructed specifically for hydrogen service (flow control skid) were designed in accordance with current piping and pipeline code, while systems that were adapted for hydrogen service (such as the pressure reduction skids) were evaluated and modified accordingly to be in compliance with recommended practices. While the project itself was intended to operate for a test duration, the systems were designed to comply with industry codes and standards applicable to permanently installed and operated systems.

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Testing results: Lowered emissions, increased performance

Mitsubishi Power provided full turnkey service for this project including engineering, planning, hydrogen blending hardware, controls, commissioning, and risk management. Mitsubishi Power partnered with Certarus to source and manage the hydrogen supply and researchers from EPRI performed the testing. The results of this demonstration support the feasibility of using hydrogen as a fuel source in large-scale gas turbines to reduce CO emissions, enhance performance, and allow further operational flexibility with minimal changes to existing plant infrastructure and hardware.
Key takeaways
  • The demonstration is the highest hydrogen fuel blend percentage (20.9%) on any advanced class gas turbine to date
  • The >20% blend resulted in a 7% reduction in carbon emissions compared to natural gas and maintained high thermal efficiency
  • The increase in hydrogen fuel blend percentage improved turndown by lowering minimum emissions compliance load, leading to reduced emissions and operational flexibility
  • No issues with gas turbine control under test conditions
  • Maintained Mitsubishi Power's best-in-class reliability throughout and after the test
  • No modifications to the turbine hardware were required

Emission reductions

Figure 1. How increasing hydrogen percent volume decreases CO2 emissions
An increase of hydrogen in the fuel mix will result in decreased CO2 emissions, but not due to volumetric- or mass-based heating value impacts. As displayed in Figure 1, as CO2 decreases in the exhaust, the concentrations of other constituents, namely oxygen and water, increases.

Combustion Performance

Figure 2. How performance increases with higher hydrogen fuel percentages
As exhaust products change from CO to water and oxygen, turbine performance is impacted. An increase in percent hydrogen by volume results in an exhaust with a higher energy content relative to its temperature (combustion performance). This results in more work for the same temperature and/or higher efficiency of the gas turbine, depending on the type of control used. 

Improved Turndown

Figure 3. Extending and lowering the MECL range with higher hydrogen fuel percentages
As the hydrogen fuel blend percentage increases, carbon emissions decrease, leading to expand the Emissions Compliant Load Range of the turbine by decreasing the Minimum Emissions Compliant Load (MECL) as typically the limit of DLN systems in low load is carbon monoxide emissions. Carbon monoxide emissions typically have a negative exponential relationship to combustion temperature, increasing dramatically as combustion temperature is decreased along with load. As a result, higher hydrogen fuel blends lead to improved combustion efficiency by reducing carbon monoxide.

To learn more about the hydrogen blending demonstration at Plant McDonough-Atkinson, download the free research report from EPRI.

The key to 20% hydrogen is 100% teamwork

Recent breakthrough test of hydrogen in an advanced-class gas turbine reveals that forging the frontier of the energy transition requires collaboration at a whole new level. Meet the team that made this successful project possible.

Prasanth Thupili

Senior Vice President of Power Generation Service at Mitsubishi Power

Retrofitting the existing gas turbine fleet would be a huge step toward further accelerating the shift to net zero energy."

Neva Espinoza

Vice President of Energy Supply & Low-Carbon Resources at EPRI

The only way to get a project like this done safely is to have open communication without concern about asking the hard questions."

Richard Cheng

Vice President of Hydrogen
at Certarus

Safety is our number-one core value."

Jeff Wilson

Fleet Modernization
R&D Manager at
Southern Company

On the journey to 100% hydrogen, you have to walk before you can run."

Eric Johnson

Manager of Georgia Power’s Plant McDonough-Atkinson

Our team was very proud to host this historic test and look forward to what it means as we help build the future of energy for our customers."

Abey Emmanuel

Senior Project Engineering Manager at SNC-Lavalin

It’s quite a challenge to make sure you contain it and have safety provisions."

Unay Onate

Account Manager at Control Southern

The testing requirements we had to support on this project were unique."

Steve Kilmartin

Senior Technical Advisor at Met Weld

This project put data out into the marketplace, demonstrating hydrogen blending as a safe and viable path."


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Collaborators Panel Discussion

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Interview with Allen Reaves, Senior Vice President at Georgia Power

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CNBC Interview with Mark Berry, Senior Vice President Research & Development at Southern Company

Accelerating the path to 100% hydrogen fuel in gas turbines

The hydrogen blending demonstration at Plant McDonough-Atkinson builds upon Mitsubishi Power’s hydrogen combustion experience and commitment to developing 100% hydrogen DLN combustion at our Takasago Works in Japan. A facility that designs, manufactures and validates gas turbines, Takasago Works will soon be succeeded by Takasago Hydrogen Park, the world’s first center for validation of hydrogen-related technologies scheduled to come online in 2023. With this comprehensive capability, Mitsubishi Power is working toward commercializing small and large frame gas turbines on a path to 100% hydrogen firing starting in 2025.

Wherever you are on your net zero journey, our hydrogen-ready solutions can help you chart your course toward a clean energy future.


Press Release: Mitsubishi Power, Georgia Power, EPRI Complete World’s Largest Hydrogen Fuel Blending at Plant McDonough-Atkinson

PowerMag Article: PowerMag Article: Southern Co. Gas-Fired Demonstration Validates 20% Hydrogen Fuel Blend

Article: Prasanth Thupili reveals the secret ingredient to the energy transition.