Mitsui Achieves First Hydrogen Combustion with a Large Marine Engine

hydrogen combustion demonstration
Mitsui E&S used a MAN B&W 2-stroke gas injection engine to achieve the first demonstration of hydrogen combustion (Mitsui E&S)

Published Mar 7, 2024 6:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

Japan’s Mitsui E&S is reporting that it successfully achieved hydrogen combustion of a large marine two-stroke engine making a key milestone in the development of hydrogen as an alternative fuel. Previously the tests have focused on hydrogen derivates such as ammonia, with the company which worked in conjunction with MAN Energy Solutions reporting that this provides critical information toward moving directly to hydrogen as a fuel.

During the test, one of the four cylinders in a MAN B&W two-stroke LNG-fired gas injection engine was converted to a hydrogen operation. The other cylinders continued to be fired with conventional fuel as a base case for comparison. High-pressure hydrogen was supplied to the cylinder from the hydrogen gas supply facility previously developed and demonstrated by Mitsui E&S.

They operated the cylinder and were able to achieve 100 percent load fueled by hydrogen load without any problems such as hydrogen leakage. They are reporting that the hydrogen fuel ignites easily but requires proper combustion control. The company succeeded in covering the equivalent of 95 percent of the heat value with hydrogen fuel, and the cylinder pressure curve was equivalent to that of the other three cylinders operated with conventional fuel. The company also confirmed that the hydrogen gas supply facility is capable of the stable supply of high-pressure hydrogen required for the engine. The five percent emissions originated from pilot fuel used during the testing.

Mitsui is a licensor of MAN with the German engine company reporting it worked closely with the Japanese company on the research project. Commenting on the results, they highlighted the “food for thought” from the results while calling it “a very interesting project” and saying they were very happy with the results achieved.

"This proves the advantages and the flexibility of two-stroke engine technology, and means that we are now also prepared for the future, not only for hydrogen derivatives but also for hydrogen as a fuel,” said Bjarne Foldager of MAN Energy Solutions.

MAN highlights that it is currently pursuing both the two- and four-stroke segments related to hydrogen. They said they would be evaluating the results while calling it a milestone for hydrogen. Mitsui E&S said it is the latest step in efforts for the early launch of hydrogen-related businesses in the maritime industry.