Cummins proton exchange membrane PEM electrolyzer selected for GAIL’s Green Hydrogen project in Madhya Pradesh

Cummins will build electrolyzers for the GAIL project using its PEM electrolysis technology.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

Cummins, a producer of power solutions, will collaborate with EPC player Tecnimont Private Limited (TCMPL), the Indian subsidiary of Maire Tecnimont Group, to construct one of India’s largest proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers for India’s largest gas transporting and marketing company GAIL in Vijaipur, Madhya Pradesh, India.

Cummins will build electrolyzers for the GAIL project using its PEM electrolysis technology, one of the most modern and efficient technologies currently available. This project is expected to generate 4.3 tonnes of green hydrogen daily, compared to about 10 megawatts of electrical input.

The project is a manifestation of India’s National Hydrogen Mission to enable the transition to decarbonized power generation and pave the way to zero emissions.

Hydrogen, the lightest and most common element in the universe, is rarely encountered in its elemental form in nature and is always extracted from other compounds containing hydrogen. Hydrogen’s contribution to decarbonization so depends on its manufacturing method. Brown or grey hydrogen is produced through coal gasification or steam methane reforming, whereas green hydrogen is produced through water electrolysis utilizing power provided by renewable sources. Cummins’ unique PEM electrolysis technology is used in the global production of PEM electrolyzers. Additionally, the Cummins R&D team is working on other advanced electrolysis methods.

According to a press statement, Cummins has provided and commissioned over 600 electrolyzers with PEM and alkaline technologies. These electrolyzers function efficiently in leading hydrogen applications, including hydrogen filling stations, industrial applications, gas grids, and energy storage projects.

GAIL’s Hydrogen initiative

Manoj Jain, chairman and managing director of GAIL, said during the India Energy Forum by CERAWeek in October 2021 that the company had issued a global tender to acquire an electrolyzer.

He said that the hydrogen Gail intends to make could be sold to fertilizer plants that the government mandates using hydrogen as fuel.

The project is designed to produce around 4.3 metric tonnes of hydrogen per day with a purity of approximately 99.999 volume per cent. It is anticipated to be operational by November 2023. The project has been awarded to the vendor with greater than fifty per cent domestic value addition.

In January this year, GAIL initiated India’s first-of-its-kind Hydrogen-to-Natural-Gas system-mixing project. Hydrogen-enriched Natural Gas is delivered to one of GAIL’s Joint Venture (JV) company with HPCL, Avantika Gas Limited (AGL), a City Gas Distribution (CGD) company operating in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. GAIL has successfully blended up to 2% (v/v) hydrogen into natural gas in the CGD network.

India’s Green hydrogen and ammonia policy

The National Hydrogen Mission was revealed on India’s 75th Independence Day, August 15, 2021. The Mission’s objective is to assist the government in achieving its climate goals and transform India into a green hydrogen hub. This will help meet the goal of producing 5 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030 and the linked goal of expanding renewable energy capacity.

Hydrogen and ammonia are expected to replace fossil fuels in the future. The production of these fuels, known as green hydrogen and green ammonia, through power derived from renewable energy sources is one of the most important criteria for the nation’s environmentally sustainable energy security. The Indian government is taking numerous steps to facilitate the transition from fossil fuels and fossil fuel-based feedstocks to green hydrogen and ammonia. 

The central government notified the policy in February 2022. It is a significant move that will assist India in achieving its climate goals and facilitate the implementation of the National Hydrogen Mission. The policy also seeks to make India a hub for the export of green hydrogen and ammonia. 

Green Hydrogen is not only a cleaner alternative to natural gas, which India imports in huge quantities, but it is also a suitable energy storage medium, making it beneficial for balancing the intermittent electricity supply from solar and wind. The deficit is currently filled by natural gas, hydroelectric capabilities, and coal plants. Green Hydrogen can also replace coal in “difficult to abate” industrial uses, such as steel and fertilizer production. It is also a suitable fuel for shipping and other large road freight vehicles, as its energy density is three times that of diesel and three and a half times that of heavy fuel oil. Since 2007, Indian oil firms have been conducting trial projects for the production of grey hydrogen; however, the focus has been on the conversion of biomass and methane to hydrogen.

India made five commitments at COP 26 in Glasgow in November 2021: achieve Net Zero by 2070, increase non-fossil fuel generation capacity to 500 GW by 2030, meet 50 per cent of energy needs with renewable energy, reduce the energy intensity of the economy by 45 per cent, and reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes.


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