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ENERGIX-Stort program energi

Innovative design and material solutions for robust hydrogen gas fuelled combustion engines

Alternative title: Innovative design- og materialløsninger for robuste hydrogendrevne forbrenningsmotorer

Awarded: NOK 10.0 mill.

Project Number:


Project Period:

2024 - 2028

Funding received from:


Bergen Engines develops and builds high quality medium-speed combustion engines for marine and land-based applications. In response to the global demand for lower emissions and climate neutral solutions, Bergen Engines are now aiming to develop a combustion engine capable of running entirely on 100% hydrogen gas. They recently accomplished a successful trial using a 30% volume blend of hydrogen. A key aspect of this development is retrofitting of existing natural gas engines to run on hydrogen fuel. This will provide a seamless transition from fossil fuel to clean renewable fuel at low cost for end users, while extending the lifespan of existing engines. When converting existing natural gas engines to run on hydrogen fuel, multiple challenges will arise. Hydrogen being the smallest and lightest element in the universe can easily penetrate any material, possibly degrading its mechanical properties. This phenomenon is known as hydrogen embrittlement. It can significantly reduce the ductility and toughness of a material, making it more susceptible to cracking and fracture. Failure usually occurs abruptly without warning, posing a serious challenge to operational safety, reliability, and cost. Proper material selection and optimized design is therefore crucial. This will ensure the engines are able to endure long term exposure to hydrogen gas without compromising the integrity of critical components. In this project, Bergen Engines will cooperate with SINTEF Industry and SINTEF Manufacturing to investigate how the integrity of critical engine components is affect by hydrogen. Both laboratory scale and full-scale engine testing will be performed. The results will enable Bergen Engines to optimize their material selection and engine design, tailored to endure long term hydrogen gas exposure.

Hydrogen as a carbon-free fuel alternative is a key solution towards reaching zero carbon emission targets. Hydrogen powered engines are expected to play a key role in securing future energy supply upon reaching full decarbonization, and the marked demands an accelerated development of hydrogen fueled combustion engines. The introduction of hydrogen as a fuel is however expected to pose a number of challenges. Hydrogen degradation of material strength can significantly compromise the safety, durability, and economic operation of an otherwise high-performance engine. This is a major showstopper for hydrogen as a fuel, requiring immediate action. The IMAGINE project will develop a hydrogen gas fueled combustion engine tailored to withstand hydrogen degradation, ensuring material integrity and durability of critical components throughout the engine lifetime. The engine solution will be hydrogen ready, prepared for both hydrogen/natural gas blend operation and 100% hydrogen combustion, providing a seamless transition from fossil fuel to clean renewable fuel at low costs for the end users. The technology developed will enable retrofitting of already existing natural gas fueled combustion engines into hydrogen ready engines. The R&D challenges that will be addressed in this project includes: 1) Understand and quantify the degrading effect of hydrogen on critical engine components; 2) Safe material selection of the fuel supply system, able to withstand hydrogen degradation during design lifetime; 3) Safe material selection of the combustion system, able to withstand combined high temperature and hydrogen degradation during design lifetime; 4) Optimized engine design, tailored to endure high temperature and high pressure hydrogen exposure.

Funding scheme:

ENERGIX-Stort program energi