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ORLEN commercialises innovative hydrogen and natural gas ‘Multifuel’ technology

Polish energy company ORLEN Group announced on Thursday (23 November) that the testing phase for a 1 megawatt (MW) prototype cogeneration set featuring the “Multifuel” system, which enables electricity and heat generation using hydrogen, natural gas or their mixtures, has been successfully completed.

The Multifuel system can be installed in generating units that are already in operation, enabling them to be gradually converted to run on hydrogen. Multifuel is set to expedite the adoption of alternative fuels in the power industry, contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions in the sector, ORLEN said in a press release.

In collaboration with Polish manufacturing company Horus-Energia, ORLEN has developed and tested the world’s first multifuel system designed to power electricity and heat generating units. The system enables a seamless transition between fuels, accommodating hydrogen, natural gas, or any combination of the two.

“The widespread adoption of alternative fuels, including hydrogen, is a crucial component of the energy transition and a key prerequisite for achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The ORLEN Group actively supports this transition, notably through the development of bridging technologies that facilitate a seamless shift from fossil fuels to low- and zero-carbon gases. Leveraging the experience, resources, and infrastructure provided by PGNiG, we have developed a globally unique technology,” said Iwona Waksmundzka-Olejniczak, Member of the ORLEN Management Board, Strategy and Sustainability. “Its application allows for energy production using natural gas and hydrogen, depending on the availability of the respective fuels. Tests have verified the flexibility of Multifuel technology, clearing the path for its swift commercialisation.”

Measurements of key operational parameters on the prototype cogeneration set equipped with the Multifuel system “further affirm” the high efficiency and reliability of ORLEN’s proprietary technology, ORLEN said in a press release. In testing with over 0.5 tonnes of hydrogen in different mixtures with natural gas, the company achieved an increase of over 5 per cent in the maximum efficiency of electricity production (relative to the manufacturer’s parameters).

The standout feature of the Multifuel system lies in its flexibility, ORLEN said. Natural gas and hydrogen are supplied to the power generating unit through two independent systems integrated with the control and monitoring system. This enables a flexible adjustment of mixture proportions, a feature unmatched by any other solution on the market. Fuel dosages are automatically adjusted without the need for power reduction, and parameters can be changed within a single engine cycle.

Commercial application of Multifuel is expected next year. ORLEN plans to offer the technology under a licence, facilitating the marketing of cogeneration sets featuring the Multifuel system as an extension of the offerings for both special and conventional generating units.

The flexibility of Multifuel extends to its installation in existing generating units, which could reduce the cost of transitioning to low-carbon energy. According to ORLEN, the technology can be effectively employed in generating units that power industrial plants, heating plants, and public utilities.

The company has filed a patent application for its invention with the Polish Patent Office, with plans to secure an extension of patent protection to include Europe and the United States.

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