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NewsTrucking

Cummins gets $5M boost from DOE to advance hydrogen efforts

Rapidly diversifying engine maker sees $400 million hydrogen revenue by 2025

Cummins Inc. is getting $5 million — the largest of 19 grants from the Department of Energy — to automate one of three types of a process that turns water into zero-emission green hydrogen. The company sees the fuel as a big revenue producer by mid-decade.

The Columbus, Indiana-based manufacturer of diesel engines and power distribution equipment is rapidly growing its expertise in hydrogen manufacturing. It predicts $400 million in revenue from hydrogen production by 2025.

The DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office money is for the automation of solid oxide electrolyzer cells (SOEC) and stack assembly. Cummins (NYSE: CMI) is spending $2 million of its own money on a three-year project to make production of the electrolyzer systems more efficient, reduce capital costs and facilitate the scale-up of the hydrogen economy.

“We believe green hydrogen will be critical to a decarbonized future, particularly for hard-to-abate sectors. Rapid innovation like this will drive the acceleration of the energy transition in the United States and globally.”

Amy Davis, Cummins vice president and president of New Power

SOECs operate at much higher heat and can be more efficient than proton membrane exchange (PEM) or alkaline electrolyzers, both of which Cummins makes. Coupled with industrial processes that use steam or high-grade heat, SOECs could help decarbonize industrial sectors, such as steel production.

Powering any type of electrolyzer with renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar or hydro, produces green hydrogen.

Scaling clean hydrogen production

“We believe green hydrogen will be critical to a decarbonized future, particularly for hard-to-abate sectors,” Amy Davis, Cummins vice president and president of New Power, said in a press release. “Rapid innovation like this will drive the acceleration of the energy transition in the United States and globally.”

Scaling clean hydrogen production, and technologies that use it, is a key component of the Biden administration’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis and to Cummins’ own sustainability strategy.

Startup fuel cell truck makers Nikola Corp. and Hyzon Motors are working on separate means of making green hydrogen, but Cummins could become a supplier to both. South Korea’s Hyundai also expects to sell fuel hydrogen-powered fuel cell trucks in the U.S. in coming years. Toyota recently announced plans to build fuel cell stacks for heavy-duty trucks at a plant in Kentucky in 2023.

If Cummins succeeds in automating the assembly of an SOEC stack with low direct labor input, increased cell throughput and a 100% quality control check, the concept should enable more than 100 megawatts of electrolyzer production capacity.

The DOE is allocating $52.5 million to fund 31 projects that advance next-generation clean hydrogen technologies. The Cummins project is one of 19 supported by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy related to hydrogen and fuel cell research and development.  

All 31 projects support the DOE’s recently announced Hydrogen Energy Earthshot to reduce the cost of a kilogram of hydrogen to $1 in a decade and accelerate breakthroughs in production, storage, distribution and use of hydrogen toward decarbonization of the electricity sector by 2035.

Hydrogen on the highway: Cummins and Air Products plan fleet conversion

Cummins sees $400M in revenue from making hydrogen in 2025

Cummins dives into hydrogen as traditional engine business stalls

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.

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