Filing of patent applications for Hydrogen Gas Turbines, the advance guard of the Hydrogen Economy, has increased
- Patent applications related to hydrogen gas turbines increased over the most recent 5 years (2015 to 2019) -
Filing of patent applications related to hydrogen gas turbines*, electricity-generating turbines which are driven by burning hydrogen instead of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), are increasing.
According to Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), 36 patents related to hydrogen gas turbines were filed in total over the most recent 9 years (2011 to 2019), and 6 to 7 cases have been filed annually since 2015 in comparison to the only 2 cases filed annually before that.
* Hydrogen not only has 6 times faster flame spread speed and 3 times higher calorific value compared to LNG, but it is also expected to become an ecofriendly energy source without CO2 gas emissions since only clean water remains as a by-product after combustion.
** Besides extracting hydrogen from preexisting coal and LNG, etc., hydrogen can be economically produced via various means such as electrolyzing water by using excess grid power, etc.
<Domestic patent application trend related to hydrogen gas turbines over the most recent 9 years>
LNG power generation comprises 26.8% of overall power generation in Korea as of 2018, which is the second highest share coming after coal thermal power generation (41.8%). In order to reduce fine dust, LNG power generation has been gradually replacing coal power generation, so it is anticipated that the share of LNG gas power generation will further expand in the future.
Within this trend, there are attempts to blend hydrogen with LNG for use as a fuel in order to enhance LNG gas turbine efficiency, and an example was recently released in which the mixing ratio of hydrogen reaches approximately 60%. Considering the current development trend of hydrogen gas turbine technology, it seems that hydrogen could be used as a generator fuel in most LNG power plants in the future.
By looking at the domestic patent application trend over the most recent 9 years, power generators such as the Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), etc. lead in the filing of patent applications related to hydrogen gas turbines, while DAEWOO Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd. and Mitsubishi Group (Japan) follow thereafter. In contrast, Siemens (USA), Alstom (Italy) and Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Co., Ltd., who currently lead the gas turbine market, are showing a trend of inactive filing of such patent applications, so a definitive direction for hydrogen gas turbine technology is not indicated.
<Domestic filing of patent applications related to hydrogen gas turbines in the most recent 9 years>
However, various experts expect that generalization and commercialization of hydrogen gas turbines should be possible by the year 2030, so investment in the corresponding technology field seems to provide great opportunities for occupying in advance independent original technology at an early stage of the development of said technology.
Looking at patent applications related to hydrogen gas turbines by technology, most common are ① technology for utilizing hydrogen extracted from fossil fuels such as coal, etc., ② technology for generating electricity by combining fuel cells and hydrogen gas turbines, ③ technology for determining the mixture ratio of LNG and hydrogen for utilizing the characteristics of high calorific power and high flame propagation, ④ hydrogen fuel injection nozzle design and ⑤ arrangement and shape design of combustion chamber.
Also, it seems that technology for producing, transporting and storing hydrogen will be developed in the future along with technology for improving fuel injection nozzles, combustion chamber structure and LNG mixture ratio in order to reduce nitrogen oxide which is an environmental contaminant generated from gas turbines.
By selecting in 2019 the hydrogen economy as one of three strategic investment fields along with data and artificial intelligence, our government aims to become the world’s premier nation in leading the hydrogen economy, and it is anticipated that the hydrogen gas turbine field could contribute significantly to this effort.
The head of the Mechanical Power Systems Examination Division at KIPO stated, “Currently, the number of annual filings of applications related to hydrogen gas turbines are less than 10 cases; however, per the increasing interest in the hydrogen economy and expansion of related infrastructure, it is anticipated that filings of patent applications related to said technology field will gradually increase” and also emphasized, “Moreover, such trend could contribute to a reduction of green-house gases, reduction of fine dust and self-sufficient energy production through a reduction in energy dependence on the fossil fuels which are currently being promoted.”