Chevron Corp. and Cummins Inc. are exploring a strategic alliance to build market demand for hydrogen and alternative energy resources.

A memorandum of understanding provides the framework for Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and Cummins to initially collaborate on four main objectives. First up is advancing public policy to promote hydrogen as a decarbonizing solution for transportation and industry.

Collaborating with Cummins “is a positive step toward our goal of building a large-scale business in a lower-carbon area that is complementary to our current offerings,” said Chevron’s Andy Walz, president of the Americas Fuels & Lubricants business. 

“Hydrogen is just one lower-carbon solution we are investing in that will position our customers to reduce the carbon intensity of their businesses and everyday lives. We’ve also invested in developing and supplying renewable natural gas, blending renewables into our fuels, coprocessing biofeedstocks in our refineries, and abatement projects that will reduce the carbon intensity of our operations.”

Among its other hydrogen-related projects, Chevron and Toyota Motor Corp. in April agreed to join forces to develop “viable” and “large-scale businesses” to capitalize on the ascension of hydrogen as a clean source of fuel.

The three other initiatives being explored by Chevron and Cummins include analyzing market demand for commercial vehicles and industrial applications powered by hydrogen. In addition, plans are to look at ways to develop infrastructure to support the use of hydrogen for industry and fuel cell vehicles. Finally, the companies would explore opportunities to leverage Cummins’ electrolyzer and fuel cell technologies at Chevron’s U.S. refineries.

“Working with Chevron to advance hydrogen technology and accelerate ecosystem development helps us continue our goal in enabling a carbon-neutral world,” said Cummins’ Amy Davis, president of New Power. “The energy transition is happening, and we recognize the critical role hydrogen will play in our energy mix.”

Cummins designs, manufactures, distributes and services a broad portfolio of power solutions. Products range from natural gas, diesel, electric and hybrid powertrains. It also provides powertrain-related components.

“We’ve deployed more than 2,000 fuel cells and 600 electrolyzers around the world,” Davis noted. Cummins also is “exploring other hydrogen alternatives, including a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine as we continue to accelerate and harness hydrogen’s powerful potential.”

Scalable And Economical

Meanwhile, Bloom Energy has introduced an electrolyzer to produce hydrogen using its solid oxide technology platform for on-site electricity. Electrolysis has been difficult to achieve because electricity costs may account for nearly 80% of the cost of the hydrogen production. However, as renewable energy costs have declined, the reduction in electricity requirements “makes hydrogen production more economical and scalable.”

Bloom has been collaborating with Baker Hughes Co. on several commercial initiatives that include integrated hydrogen solutions. The companies are considering a way to pair the electrolyzer with Baker Hughes’ compression technology. They also want to assess excess heat utilization for steam generation, which could include blending hydrogen into natural gas networks alongside on-site hydrogen production for industrial use.

The new electrolyzer consumes an estimated 15% less electricity to make hydrogen than similar technologies when electricity is the only input source, according to Bloom.

Late last year the San Jose, CA-based company said it planned to ship the electrolyzers in mid-2022  to an industrial complex in Changwon, Korea, in collaboration with SK EcoPlant. The proposed project in Changwon is designed to help pave the way for South Korea to become carbon neutral by 2050.