Rolls-Royce Runs 12-Cylinder mtu Generator Engine on 100 Percent Hydrogen

Many of you may not be familiar with the Rolls-Royce natural gas-powered mtu Series 4000 engines, and there’s no shame in that. They are large pieces of hardware that despite wearing the name engine are more like generators used to create electricity for various needs. But they might prove to be just what the doctor prescribed for the advancement of hydrogen as a fuel source.
Rolls-Royce mtu Series 4000 engine 6 photos
Photo: Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce mtu Series 4000 engineRolls-Royce mtu Series 4000 engineRolls-Royce mtu Series 4000 engineRolls-Royce mtu Series 4000 engineRolls-Royce mtu Series 4000 engine
For a long time Rolls-Royce, one of the biggest producers of engines in the world, has been trying to come up with alternative sources of fuel for its hardware. Because of its abundance and a lot of other factors, hydrogen has always been a prime candidate.

As the third week of the new year kicks into gear, the company announced it completed the first-ever test runs of a mtu Series 4000 using hydrogen for fuel. The tests were conducted on a 12-cylinder gas variant of the machine running completely on the lightest element we know of, and according to the company it “showed very good characteristics in terms of efficiency, performance, emissions and combustion.”

To be able to handle the new fuel, the generator had to go through some changes, especially when it came to some of its most important components, fuel injection, turbocharging, piston design and control. Even so, the British company says the conversion from natural gas to hydrogen happens “quickly and efficiently.”

Tests with the new fuel and engine configuration will continue in the coming months, but there are already plans to install the mtu machinery in the German port of Duisburg, to be used by the enerPort II project. There, two mtu Series 4000 hydrogen engines will provide, from 2024 heat and power to the port’s facilities, while three mtu fuel cell systems will be capable of storing 1.5MW of energy.

The enerPort II is described as Europe’s first climate-neutral container terminal, and the Rolls-Royce hydrogen engines will not be the only pieces of high-tech that will be deployed there. Its designers call the logistics infrastructure of the place “revolutionary,” as the terminal's needs will be catered to by networked cargo movement, hydrogen-powered locomotives, and an overall modular architecture.

The ones building the place will not keep the energy they generate only for themselves, and have pledged to supply excess power created to the local community.

Rolls-Royce is not only planning new mtu engines that can run on hydrogen, but says it can also convert already-delivered ones to run on that, so expect many more places like ports to start relying on the tech soon.

As for hydrogen application in the fields that concern us average Joes the most (cars), despite some companies still trying to make this type of fuel stick, they seem to be losing the battle against the onslaught of battery-powered vehicles.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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