Hydrogen is the future, be it for automobiles or industries, and looking at its potential, many big names in the automotive industry have placed their money on it. Bosch, for example, has plans to invest 500 million euros towards manufacturing electrolysers to produce green oxygen by the end of the decade. However, for India to be self-dependent, the country needs to manufacture hydrogen locally.
Reliance, again a big name in the country and globally, has announced that it will transition to manufacturing green hydrogen by 2025. However, when sustainability comes into question, every step taken towards the goal of clean air counts.
In this process of manufacturing green hydrogen, electrolysers are a key element and their production is important. One such company working on manufacturing electrolysers is Bangalore-based Newtrace. The technology company focuses on decarbonisation through innovation. Speaking to Express Mobility, Prasanta Sarkar, the CEO and Co-Founder says, “Most of the innovations taking place are incremental, meaning something’s out, then it’s repackaged and sent. When we started, our aim was to make strides in innovation.”
Sarkar goes on to say that when Newtrace started two years ago, the battery segment was becoming saturated in terms of chemistry and felt hydrogen was not being addressed. “Hydrogen not only has the ability to address the carbon footprint when it comes to mobility but many other sectors too. We wanted to build a solution to address almost 70 percent of the global emission,” says the CEO.
However, access to technology was a challenge. “Billions of dollars of investment towards green hydrogen, but access to technology was limited, so we developed the technology to make electrolysers in-house. We are now working on scaling it up to meet demands,” says Sarkar.
The process is the same, Newtrace uses water to split oxygen and hydrogen using renewable energy, however, they have made changes to the technology to help with the process. Newtrace claims that it is the only Indian company to have indigenously developed electrolysers at a commercial scale. Biomass can also be used, “but can’t be scaled up to a commercial level,” he says.
Sarkar says, “India has access to electricity on a large scale, along with sea water, which are two key components of making hydrogen. In India, we currently need 8 million tonnes of hydrogen every year and this comes from natural gas. That’s why technology needs to be scalable and the key component for this is the electrolyser. The current electrolysers used contain rare earth materials like titanium, gold, platinum and other membranes which are not readily available since they are not found everywhere.”
That’s when Newtrace decided to make electrolysers that do not use rare earth materials or need to be dependent on the global supply chain. The company uses stainless steel, plastic, and other materials that are available in India and globally, but not restricted to single sources.
Sarkar says, “Putting all the hydrogen companies together is still not enough to meet one single customer’s demand right now. They are all bottlenecked due to the supply chain constraint, however, we are looking to scale up gradually and meet some parts of the demand on a yearly basis, steadily replacing hydrogen production with green hydrogen.”
He adds, “Investment will not be a challenge, but technology will, as the order books for all the electrolyser manufacturers globally are full till 2026. Over the last two years, we addressed the technology challenge, and now we will focus on manufacturing. We will also be looking at local component suppliers for the plant such as valves and other hardware. We will be focusing on this and slowly scale up to manufacturing around 50 units a year in the next two years.”