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A Compilation of Operability and Emissions Performance of Residential Water Heaters Operated on Blends of Natural Gas and Hydrogen Including Consideration for Reporting Bases


The impact of hydrogen added to natural gas on the performance of commercial domestic water heating devices has been discussed in several recent papers in the literature. Much of the work focuses on performance at specific hydrogen levels (by volume) up to 20–30% as a near term blend target. In the current work, new data on several commercial devices have been obtained to help quantify upper limits based on flashback limits. In addition, results from 39 individual devices are compiled to help generalize observations regarding performance. The emphasis of this work is on emissions performance and especially NOx emissions. It is important to consider the reporting bases of the emissions numbers to avoid any unitended bias. For water heaters, the trends associated with both mass per fuel energy input and concentration-based representation are similar For carbon free fuels, bases such as 12% CO2 should be avoided. In general, the compiled data shows that NOx, NO, UHC, and CO levels decrease with increasing hydrogen percentage. The % decrease in NOx and NO is greater for low NOx devices (meaning certified to NOx <10 ng/J using premixing with excess air) compared to conventional devices (“pancake burners”, partial premixing). Further, low NOx devices appear to be able to accept greater amounts of hydrogen, above 70% hydrogen in some cases, without modification, while conventional water heaters appear limited to 40–50% hydrogen. Reporting emissions on a mass basis per unit fuel energy input is preferred to the typical dry concentration basis as the greater amount of water produced by hydrogen results in a perceived increase in NOx when hydrogen is used. While this effort summarizes emissions performance with added hydrogen, additional work is needed on transient operation, higher levels of hydrogen, system durability/reliability, and heating efficiency.

Funding source: Aspects of this research were funded by ATCO, Rheem Manufacturing, and Southern California Gas.
Related subjects: Hydrogen Blending
Countries: United States

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