Transitioning to a Hydrogen Ecosystem

Author photo: Sharada Prahladrao
BySharada Prahladrao
Technology Trends

ARC Advisory Group’s 21st India Forum titled Driving Sustainability, Energy Transition, and Performance through Digitalization on July 12th and 13th, 2023 saw a turnout of over 300+ delegates. Emerson participated as a Platinum Sponsor at the Forum, and in the session on Digital Transformation and Sustainability Initiatives (Part 1), Emerson’s customer Aniket Pratap, Senior Manager Fuel Cell Systems, Reliance Industries, spoke about partnering with Emerson on the hydrogen powered path for a clean and green world. 

When the customer speaks about how the partner’s solutions have helped them along the sustainability path, it is like a seal of approval. At the end of the session, Mihir Shah, Business Development Manager from Emerson joined him for the panel discussion. This blog captures the salient points of Aniket’s presentation and Mihir’s response during the panel discussion. It can be watched in entirety here.

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Transitioning to a New Energy System

The world is transitioning from the existing energy system to the new energy system, i.e. from hydrocarbon to hydrogen. The goal is to become carbon neutral by 2030. The Paris Agreement that India has also signed focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions for a carbon neutral world. Aniket explained the process in the existing energy system – exploration and production, transportation, processing and storage, distribution and consumption. Fossil fuels (diesel and petrol) are used in these processes and inevitably emit greenhouse gases. Whereas in the hydrogen ecosystem renewable energy will be used. India is blessed with abundant solar and wind energy that can be leveraged to produce electricity and stored in batteries. The mobility solution can be arrived at in two ways: 

By creating an inventory of this energy that is stored in the battery.   

Through a process of electrolysis the hydrogen can be transported via a hydrogen pipeline and stored in carbon fiber tanks and consumed by fuel cell electric vehicles and hydrogen internal combustion engines. 

The question that arises is that if energy can be stored in the battery, why opt for hydrogen? But batteries have certain disadvantages. For example, an aircraft cannot be run on battery power as it is too heavy and will reduce efficiency levels. Whereas hydrogen is a lightweight element which can help in storing this energy, and using technologies like fuel cell mobility can be improved. 

Fuel Cell Technology

Presently, mobility applications use the PEM (polymer electrolyte membrane) cell technology. This is the most sought-after technology as there are no greenhouse gas emissions. There are other fuel cell technologies, such as: phosphoric acid fuel cell (for stationary applications), solid oxide fuel cell (for stationary and marine applications), and molten carbonate fuel cell (for stationary and marine applications). “These technologies will shape the future of power generation and mobility,” said Aniket. 

Hydrogen Ecosystem


Five years down the line, residential buildings will have a fuel cell system with a hydrogen pipeline connected to it, generating electricity on site. This concept is called distributed electricity generation and will enable power generation and consumption as per the requirement. Further, Aniket explained the integrated instrumentation for PEM fuel cell system architecture and how the technology was jointly developed with Emerson. This is where the process industries and mobility sector are merging their expertise and technologies together. But the main constraint is that although one can get a PEM fuel stack from a manufacturer, there’s a lot of engineering involved in the design of BOP (balance of plant). 


The partnership with Emerson will help to modularize fuel cell technology applications. The larger vision is to make hydrogen easily available and accessible to everyone everywhere. “For these technologies to succeed it’s very important to ensure that hydrogen production and consumption go hand in hand,” said Aniket. Once these two are in sync then clean energy generation and clean mobility will become a reality. Reliance has set up a state-of-the-art testing facility in Bangalore. Aniket highlighted the use of Coriolis and Vortex flowmeters in fuel cell technologies. Two-stage regulators and three-way valves are in place to ensure hydrogen consistency. 

This is not a new technology and has been used in the Apollo missions; the main roadblock for commercialization of this technology lies in the instrumentation and controls elements. OEMs must introduce modular products that can easily be integrated. “In the new energy market there is no competition among vendors, the competition is with greenhouse gases; we can all collaboratively reduce this for a better world,” said Aniket in conclusion.  

Mihir Shah’s Perspective

When asked about the benefit of two-way regulators for on-board applications, Mihir said that for any commercial vehicle (truck, car, aeroplane, ship etc.) stable fuel management is very important. When there is a two-way regulator system you can ensure a stable outlet flow management despite multiple variable inputs. Additionally, it provides adequate fuel cell control.  

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