Caterpillar to demonstrate hydrogen CHP

By Mike Brezonick31 May 2022

Caterpillar Inc. has announced a low-carbon-intensity fuel project with District Energy St. Paul to demonstrate a 2.0 MW combined heat and power (CHP) system fueled by various combinations of hydrogen and natural gas.

Supported and partially funded by the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the project will be led by Caterpillar in collaboration with District Energy St. Paul of St. Paul, Minnesota, USA, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

St Paul Cogeneration Plant A Caterpillar CHP system will be installed at the District Energy St. Paul facility in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo: Caterpillar)

With preparations starting in the second quarter of this year and operations commencing in 2023, participants will develop and demonstrate a hydrogen-fueled power delivery and control system to evaluate its greenhouse gas emissions profile, reliability, durability and barriers to adoption. To fully assess every aspect of the hydrogen solution under real-world operating conditions, power and heat from the demonstration project will feed into District Energy St. Paul’s distribution system.

“As a leading authority on CHP systems and the deployment of advanced energy technologies that promote sustainability, District Energy St. Paul is the ideal choice for hosting this demonstration,” said Jason Kaiser, vice president for Caterpillar’s Electric Power Division. “The project will help Caterpillar further extend our expertise in hydrogen-fueled power systems performing under the highest expectations of real-world applications.”

For the demonstration project, Caterpillar will deploy a flexible-fuel CHP system that includes the Cat Master Microgrid Controller (MMC) and a Cat G3516 generator set packaged in a standardized, factory-assembled solution designed to minimize complexity and infrastructure requirements.

The MMC will manage load dispatch requirements as the power system demonstrates the performance, efficiency and emissions characteristics of a hydrogen-fueled solution. Using 100% hydrogen fuel, 100% natural gas fuel, or natural gas blended with up to 25% hydrogen, the project will compare how hydrogen and hydrogen blends can be integrated into a waste-heat-and-power solution.

Ziegler, the local Cat dealer, will provide on-site support and system maintenance for the project.

Cat H2 generator set For its demonstration project in St. Paul, Minn., Caterpillar will deploy a flexible-fuel CHP system that includes the Cat Master Microgrid Controller (MMC) and a Cat G3516 generator set. (Photo: Caterpillar)

Caterpillar has begun offering demonstrator generator sets capable of operating on 100% hydrogen, including fully renewable green hydrogen, on a designed-to-order basis. The Cat G3516H gas generator set is available in North America and Europe with a rating of 1250 kW for 50 or 60 Hz continuous, prime, and load management applications.

Additionally, Caterpillar offers commercially available power generation solutions from 400 kW to 4.5 MW that can be configured to operate on natural gas blended with up to 25% hydrogen. In the fourth quarter of this year, Cat said customers will be able to order retrofit kits that provide blending capabilities up to 25% hydrogen for generator sets built on select engine platforms.

Caterpillar has also launched a three-year project through a collaboration with Microsoft to demonstrate a power system incorporating a large-format hydrogen fuel cell to produce reliable and sustainable backup power for data centers. The project is supported and partially funded by the DOE under the H2@Scale initiative and backed by the NREL.

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