Mixing Hydrogen with Natural Gas

News: In line with National Hydrogen Mission, GAIL has commenced India’s first-of-its-kind project of mixing hydrogen into the natural gas system to establish the techno-commercial feasibility of blending hydrogen in City Gas Distribution (CGD) network.

Details:

  • The project has been initiated in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. GAIL has started injecting grey hydrogen. This grey hydrogen would subsequently be replaced by green hydrogen.
  • The hydrogen blended natural gas will be supplied to Avantika Gas Ltd, one of GAIL’s joint venture with HPCL, for retailing of CNG to automobiles and piped natural gas to households in Indore. Government is planning to blend 15% green hydrogen with piped natural gas (PNG) for domestic, commercial and industrial consumption.

Significance:

  • It is easier and safer to use than hydrogen as it contains very low energy content from hydrogen i.e., up to 30% by volume. Hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (HCNG) will ensure 70% more reduction in carbon monoxide emissions compared to CNG.
  • Power output of HCNG is also better than CNG ones. Blending integrates concentrations of hydrogen into existing natural gas pipelines and reduces carbon intensity of methane.
  • Zero-emission hydrogen is the latest buzzword around the world. India has committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2070 and hydrogen together with renewable energy is seen as key to achieving that goal. For the transition, natural gas is the fuel and the government is looking to raise its share in the primary energy basket to 15 per cent by 2030 from the current 6.2 per cent.

What is Hydrogen fuel?

  • Hydrogen is the lightest and first element on the periodic table. Since the weight of hydrogen is less than air, it rises in the atmosphere and is therefore rarely found in its pure form, H2.
  • At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odorless, tasteless, colorless, and highly combustible diatomic gas.
  • Molecular hydrogen is not available on Earth in convenient natural reservoirs.
  • Most hydrogen on Earth is bonded to oxygen in water and to carbon in live or dead and/or fossilized biomass. It can be created by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Significance of Hydrogen Based economy:

  • Due to its ability to power fuel cells in zero-emission electric vehicles, its potential for domestic production, and the fuel cell’s potential for high efficiency hydrogen is considered an alternative.
  • Water is the only by-product that results from the usage of hydrogen fuel that makes the fuel 100 per cent clean. Hydrogen can also serve as fuel for internal combustion engines.
  • The energy in 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of hydrogen gas contains about the same as the energy in 1 gallon (6.2 pounds, 2.8 kilograms) of gasoline.
  • The Finance Minister in the Union budget for 2020-21 formally announced the National Hydrogen Mission which aims for generation of hydrogen from green power resources.
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has also disclosed that the draft regulations for NHM will be finalised by the end of this month and will thereafter proceed for approval of the Union Cabinet.

Challenges for India:

  • Economic sustainability of extracting green or blue hydrogen. The technology used in production and use of hydrogen like carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen fuel cell technology are at nascent stage and are expensive which in turn increases the cost of production of hydrogen.
  • The maintenance costs for fuel cells post-completion of a plant can be costly, like in South Korea.
  • The commercial usage of hydrogen as a fuel and in industries requires mammoth investment in R&D of such technology and infrastructure for production, storage, transportation and demand creation for hydrogen.