The breakthrough generator can help to improve resilience during the global energy transition
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Spotted: Back-up generators are essential for maintaining power to hospitals, data centres, and other operations during disruptions to the main power grid. Today, many of these generators still run on diesel – an environmentally damaging fossil fuel that contributes to both climate change and air pollution.
In response, advanced energy solutions company Mainspring Energy recently announced that it has successfully carried out tests on a generator that can run on 100 per cent hydrogen and 100 per cent ammonia fuels. This new technology could replace diesel back-up generators, or be used as a means of shoring up grids powered by variable renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
Hydrogen and ammonia are alternative fuels that show promise as the world moves towards net zero. Most hydrogen and ammonia today is derived from fossil fuels, but both substances can be produced using ‘green’ processes. Sustainable hydrogen production can be achieved by running an electric current—generated using solar or wind power—through water. ‘Green’ ammonia can then be made from the sustainably produced hydrogen. Both hydrogen and ammonia are a good means of storing and transporting energy, making them an ideal solution for hard-to-decarbonise sectors. Moreover, ammonia is already used all over the world as a fertiliser. This means that the distribution and supply chain infrastructure to transport it is already in place.
The generator—called the Mainspring Linear Generator—is a breakthrough as it can operate on multiple fuel sources with no cross-contamination. In addition to ammonia and hydrogen, the generator can run on biogas, renewable natural gas, and other widely available gaseous fuels. A software-based control system even automates the process of switching between fuels, maximising resilience and flexibility. What is more, the technology can be started up quickly and run for extended periods at full load, providing critical backup power when the grid goes down.
“Clean fuels are essential to decarbonising the grid and supporting the rapid growth of solar and wind power. They provide all the advantages of fossil fuels – resilience, low-cost cross-seasonal storage, and ease of transport – without the carbon,” explains Shannon Miller, Mainspring CEO and founder.
Written By: Katrina Lane