Cummins seizes the day to lead on hydrogen technology

Cummins Hydrogen Day - Event Roundup

Cummins laid out an aggressive strategy for hydrogen today, addressing both production of the low-carbon energy source as well as the fuel cell technology to convert it into power for customers.

 

Speaking at the company’s Hydrogen Day, leaders said Cummins has the technical expertise and the manufacturing and customer support capabilities to successfully bring to market a range of hydrogen-related products at a scale for widespread adoption.

“Hydrogen technologies, particularly electrolyzers, will be a fast-growing and increasingly important part of our business over the next few years,” said Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger at the virtual event, which drew a registered audience of more than 3,000 analysts, media members, environmental advocates and others.

“As momentum increases worldwide for the use of hydrogen solutions, we will continue to leverage our industry-leading hydrogen technologies, our deep customer relationships and our extensive service network to enable adoption,” said Linebarger, who serves on the board of the global Hydrogen Council.

Amy Davis, Vice President and President of the New Power business segment, which oversees Cummins’ work on battery-electric and hydrogen-related products, said customers can count on Cummins as they tackle the enormous challenges presented by moving to the carbon neutral future envisioned by the Paris climate accords.

“Our goal is to have the right products to meet customers’ needs at every point of the transition, which is why we have invested in multiple solutions upfront,” she said.

Cummins leaders cautioned, however, that carbon neutrality can’t be achieved without private investment and government support.

“I am encouraged to see government interest in this space increasing in order to support new and less carbon intensive technology,” Davis said.

Germany, for example, plans to spend $9 billion on hydrogen infrastructure this decade, with 5 Gigawatts of electrolyzer capacity by 2030. China and South Korea are developing fuel cell and hydrogen production targets. In the U.S., California expects to have spent about $230 million on hydrogen projects by the end of 2023.

Fuel  cell truck for the California Energy Commission
Cummins' PEM fuel cells can be found in a class 8 truck for the California Energy Commission that not only includes the fuel cell composition, but also the hydrogen storage, battery system and electric drivetrain. You can learn more about Cummins' plans for hydrogen at the company's Hydrogen Day web page.

TURNING GREY TO GREEN

Almost all of the approximately 70 million tons of hydrogen produced today is considered “grey hydrogen,” made using significant amounts of power generated through the use of natural gas.

Cummins expects the world’s initial attention will be given to replacing this “grey hydrogen” with “green hydrogen,” produced primarily through the electrolysis of water using renewable power from wind, solar and hydro-electric sources.

Cummins is already producing a range of electrolyzers to generate green hydrogen, including a nearly complete 20-megawatt electrolyzer system in Bécancour, Canada, that will be the largest in the world.

The company’s electrolyzers employ both Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) and alkaline technologies, and it could be adding to its portfolio soon. Cummins recently received a $2 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to demonstrate the cost, performance and reliability of a reversible fuel cell or R-SOFC.

It can run as a solid oxide electrolyzer cell that can split steam to separate hydrogen and oxygen. In total, Cummins has already delivered electrolyzers for more than 50 hydrogen fueling stations across the globe.

Linebarger said the company’s projections show Cummins’ electrolyzer business alone will have annual revenues of approximately $400 million in 2025, with “demand driven by the transition from grey to green hydrogen.” 

Over time, Cummins expects the price of electrolyzers to decline, leading to widely available green hydrogen at a lower cost. The increased availability of low-cost green hydrogen is projected to drive demand for hydrogen powered fuel cells to convert green hydrogen into low-carbon power for everything from trains to on-highway trucks and buses, to off-highway construction equipment and stationary power applications.

Cummins fuel cells powered the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell passenger train called Coradia iLint in Germany. By 2025, the company expects to have shipped fuel cell systems for at least 100 trains, primarily in Europe.
Cummins' fuel cells powered the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell passenger train called Coradia iLint in Germany. By 2025, the company expects to have shipped fuel cell systems for at least 100 trains, primarily in Europe.

PUTTING HYDROGEN TO WORK

Cummins isn’t waiting to get started on fuel cells. The company already has more than 2,000 fuel cell installations across a variety of on-and off-highway applications.

Cummins’ fuel cells, for example, are powering the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell passenger trains through Alstom, a French rail manufacturer. The company supplied fuel cells for FAUN, a leader in waste collection vehicles and sweepers in Europe, for its electric refuse truck program. 

Cummins is also working with ASKO, Norway’s largest grocery wholesaler, to supply fuel cells integrated into four Scania electric trucks as part of ASKO’s plan to bring more alternative fuel vehicles into its fleet. And the company’s fuel cells are being integrated into more than 60 buses in Zhangjiakou, China, a co-host for the 2022 winter games.

Just last week, Cummins announced it will work with longtime customer Navistar on the development of a class 8 truck powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The truck will be integrated into Werner Enterprises’ fleet of more than 7,700 tractors for local and regional service on a year-long trial basis out of Fontana, California.

“Cummins is unique in that our portfolio has both hydrogen production from electrolysis as well as fuel cells,” said Amy Adams, Vice President – Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technologies. “This enables us to offer a full, differentiated hydrogen solution from start to finish, seamlessly integrated for customers.”

LOOKING AHEAD

How quickly all this happens depends on a number of factors, including government leadership to help make hydrogen products an attractive alternative to less expensive internal combustion technology. But Cummins is moving today to seize the opportunity that awaits. 

“While we know the widespread adoption of carbon neutral fuel cell solutions will take time, Cummins is already leaning into the opportunity now,” Linebarger said. “Our company’s financial strength provides us with the ability to invest in and develop a broad portfolio of technologies across advanced diesel, natural gas, mild and heavy hybrid, battery electric and fuel cells that will move the world towards a carbon neutral future.”

Cummins' Virtual Hydrogen Day Event: Event Recap
 

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]

 

Cummins named to prestigious sustainability index for 15th consecutive year

An employee works at the Cummins Mississauga Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Technologies facility in Ontario, Canada. The facility builds low-carbon fuel cells for multiple applications and electrolyzers that produce hydrogen.
An employee works at the Cummins Mississauga Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Technologies facility in Ontario, Canada. The facility builds low-carbon fuel cells for multiple applications and electrolyzers that produce hydrogen.

Cummins has been named to the S&P Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for North America, one of the premier measures of corporate sustainability, for a 15th consecutive year.

Launched in 1999, the indices are one of the oldest measures of corporate sustainability. In 2020, only 142 companies made the North American index over nearly two-dozen categories, ranging from automobiles to utilities. Cummins is one of only 10 included from the capital goods sector.

The indices are based on an exhaustive survey covering company performance and strategy in 2019 on environmental, social and governance issues. The index evaluated more than 7,000 companies from around the world in 2020.

2020 Dow Jones LogoIMPROVING SCORES

"A (Dow Jones Sustainability Indices) designation is a reflection of being a sustainability leader in your industry,” said Manjit Jus, Global Head of ESG Research and Data for S&P Global.

“With a record number of companies participating in the 2020 Corporate Sustainability Assessment and more stringent rules for inclusion this year, this sets your company apart and rewards for your continued commitment to people and the planet,” Jus said.

Once again, Cummins narrowly missed the minimum score for inclusion on the world indices. The company, nevertheless, equaled or improved its score in 20 of 22 categories compared to 2019, including significant increases for environmental, social, and occupational health and safety reporting.

A SUSTAINABLE TRADITION

Cummins has a rich history in sustainability, producing a corporate sustainability report since 2003, one of the oldest in the U.S. The company has been especially active in the past 18 months.

In 2019, Cummins adopted a new environmental sustainability strategy called PLANET 2050 to address climate and other environmental issues. Just last week, the company announced an aggressive plan for commercializing low carbon power systems fueled by hydrogen. 

On social issues, Cummins is in the midst of a ground-breaking social initiative called Cummins Powers Women to improve the lives of women and girls around the world, impacting more than 100,000 people since its start in 2018. Late last month, the company launched Cummins Advocating for Racial Equity (CARE), another step in Cummins’ intent to take a leading role in undoing systemic discrimination against people of color in the United States.

Cummins has been developing strategies for the company to play a role in four key areas: police reform, criminal justice reform, economic empowerment and social justice in healthcare, housing, workforce development and civil rights.

In governance, the company’s Board of Directors recently added a fourth woman to the 12-member board. Five members of the company's nine-member Executive Leadership Team are women.

Cummins has also taken a leading role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, partnering with two other companies to help produce personal protective equipment. The company also developed a playbook based on lessons it learned during the crisis and shared it with other companies via Cummins’ external website, cummins.com.

The company has an extensive report on its work in sustainability on Cummins’ sustainability website.
 

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]

 

Diesel and the path to a carbon neutral future

Many of the advances  in diesel technology demonstrated in SuperTruck I are in production today to improve fuel economy and by extension reduce greenhouse gases.
Many of the advances in diesel technology demonstrated in SuperTruck I are in production today to improve fuel economy and by extension reduce greenhouse gases.

Diesel engines will continue improving in the coming years, playing an important role in efforts to further reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) and atmospheric pollutants, according to a Cummins leader participating in a recent panel discussion on the technology’s future.

Dr. Wayne Eckerle, Vice President – Research and Technology, told the audience at the virtual event sponsored by the Diesel Technology Forum that initiatives such as SuperTruck II are already underway to explore increasing the efficiency of modern diesel engines and long-haul tractor-trailers.

Potential innovations include advances in waste-heat recovery, engine controls, reducing engine friction, aerodynamic vehicle design and much more.

Over time, Eckerle said there will be a growing connection between the entire vehicle and environmental conditions, including advances in “look ahead” technology that enables in-use adjustments for peak fuel efficiency, which translates into reduced GHGs.

“It’s really our equivalent to the space program,” Eckerle said of the SuperTruck program, a public-private partnership led by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and leading companies in on-highway heavy-duty transportation. “That’s how I look at it.” 

SuperTruck I was launched in 2010 with the goal of improving freight hauling efficiency by 50%. It ended up exceeding that goal and many of the initiative’s advances are in mass production today. SuperTruck II aims to increase freight hauling efficiency even more. 

Chart on the progress of diesel
The Diesel Technology Forum says diesel technology is significantly cleaner over the past 30 years (chart courtesy of Diesel Technology Forum).

Additional improvements in diesel technology will build on significant advances over the past 20 or 30 years in emissions control.  

Since around 1990, modern diesel engines have reduced both particulate matter (PM) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx), key contributors to smog, by about 98%, according to the Diesel Technology Forum.

The forum says it would take 60 of today's clean diesel trucks to equal the emissions of one diesel truck sold in 1988.

While diesel could remain the dominant fuel source for on- and off-highway markets for some time, there will be a point when the technology can’t meet the growing demand for zero lifecycle GHGs and zero emissions without some form of electrification, either through battery electric or fuel cell technology or perhaps some new energy source. 

Hybrid engines employing those low-carbon technologies and diesel could be critical on the path to carbon neutrality.

Cummins is developing low-carbon technologies in its New Power business segment as part of the company’s overall strategy to offer customers a broad portfolio of power solutions, so they can choose what works best for their unique sustainability goals.

The company will hold its first Hydrogen Day Nov. 16 to discuss its strategy for the promising low-carbon fuel.

Eckerle is optimistic about the future of diesel in part because Cummins has the powerful tools necessary to do great things.

“I must say that the big enabler in this whole process is our analytical capability, our ability to model the combustion process,” Eckerle said. “We can model the fuel going through the injector into the combustion chamber, combusting it and so forth, and the whole air handling process. It’s really a key to us because we have engines in a lot of different applications.”  

Eckerle appeared on the panel with Carrie Song, Vice President of Renewable Diesel, Neste; and Michael Lefebvre, Worldwide Manager - Marketing, John Deere Power Systems. The Diesel Technology Forum is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology.
 

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]

 

Greenhouse gases to carbon neutrality and carbon negativity; an overview of popular emission terms

In 2019, 90% of S&P 500 companies published sustainability or responsibility reports. In comparison, only about 20% of the S&P 500 companies had published a sustainability report in 20111. Whether you are a parent protecting the environment for your kids or a business professional safeguarding the long-term viability of your company through reduced environmental footprint, the focus on environmental sustainability, especially air quality, is on the rise, and it is well-needed.  

This article brings you the basics around some of the common terms associated with air quality and emissions.

What are the different greenhouse gases (GHG)?

There are four primary greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and fluorinated gases. These are called greenhouse gases since they contribute towards trapping heat within the atmosphere. The name greenhouse comes from the greenhouse facilities used to grow our plants. These greenhouse facilities trap the heat necessary for the growth of plants inside themselves; hence the name for greenhouse gases.

Why carbon emissions require the extra focus?

Longevity and abundance.

Carbon has the longevity and abundance over the other greenhouse gases
Carbon has the longevity and abundance over the other greenhouse gases
  • Carbon dioxide emitted today lasts in the atmosphere for over a thousand years. In comparison, methane emitted today lasts about a decade; nitrous oxides emitted today lasts about a century. 
  • Abundance is the second reason; about 80% of human-made GHG emissions is carbon dioxide. Methane, which is the second most emitted GHG, makes up only 10% of total GHG emissions.

A combination of carbon’s longevity and its abundance result in extra focus put into the reduction of carbon emissions. 

What is carbon neutral, carbon zero and carbon negative?

Carbon neutral means the carbon emitted from the activity is offset by other means such as carbon removal, purchase of carbon credits, planting trees or beyond. For example, your facility could be using low-emission diesel engines; meanwhile you deploy carbon removal technologies to offset your carbon emission to achieve carbon neutral electricity generation. 

Carbon zero means there is zero carbon emitted as a result of the specific activity; hence no need for carbon removal to offset the initial emission. For example, fuel cells powered by green hydrogen would produce carbon zero electricity.

Carbon negative means that there is more carbon removed from the atmosphere than the activity or equipment’s carbon emission.   

What are renewable energy credits and carbon credits?

Renewable energy credits (RECs) are a way for companies to contribute towards increased generation and use of renewable energy. Renewable energy credits are specifically focused on offsetting electricity use from non-renewable fuels. Meanwhile, carbon credits are more broadly focused on offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, beyond electricity generation. 

Let’s look at a real-life example. Many data center operators purchase renewable energy and associated RECs. In cases where the renewable energy is produced in a location far away from the data center, the data center operator sells the renewable energy back to the grid and uses RECs to offset its carbon footprint. This approach gives the renewable energy provider the customer commitment to invest in new projects. In other words, this approach delivers an increasing amount of renewable energy to the grid for all of us to use. Meanwhile, critics highlight that this approach doesn’t necessarily reduce the data center’s carbon contribution.

What is nitrous oxide emissions’ role as a greenhouse gas?

Nitrous oxides are commonly recognized as the cause of the smog present in urban locations with busy vehicle traffic or space heating needs. While there is less nitrous oxide emitted by humans compared to carbon dioxide and methane, nitrous oxide’s potent nature makes it an important greenhouse gas. It is estimated that one pound of nitrous oxide and 300 pounds of carbon dioxide have the equivalent effect on warming the atmosphere2

What has been done to reduce diesel engine emissions?

Diesel engines are used in many applications ranging from on-highway vehicles, such as buses and trucks, and off-highway vehicles, such as mine trucks, boats and locomotives; to stationary applications such as back-up power generators in healthcare facilities, data centers and other buildings.  

Today's clean diesel engines emit 90% less harmful emissions that the engines produced before the year 2000
Today's clean diesel engines emit 90% less harmful emissions that the engines produced before the year 2000

Over the last two decades, diesel engines’ emission of key pollutants has been significantly reduced through regulations. For example, a typical Cummins diesel engine used in a mining application emits 90% less particulate matter (PM), oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and hydrocarbons (HC) compared to engines produced before the year 20003

It is broadly agreed that carbon zero and carbon negative technologies are the final destination in our environmental sustainability journey. The path towards our destination will feature a diverse set of technologies ranging from microgrids and stationary energy storage to fuel cells and renewables. 

Sign up below for Energy IQ to periodically receive energy and power insights. To learn more about power solutions Cummins Inc. offers, visit our webpage. 

 

References: 
1 2020 S&P 500 Flash Report (July 16th, 2020). Governance & Accountability Institute Inc. [Pdf file]. Retrieved from https://www.ga-institute.com/ 
2 Nitrous Oxide (n.d.). North Carolina Climate Office [Web page]. Retrieved from https://climate.ncsu.edu/
3 Cummins Tier 4 Final High-Horsepower Engines For The Mining Industry. (n.d.). [Pdf file]. Retrieved from https://cummins.com  

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Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

Cummins takes leadership role in promising fuel cell technology

A Cummins employee works on the cathode screen printing process, towards the end of the solid oxide fuel cell manufacturing line at the company's facility in Malta, New York (U.S.).
A Cummins employee works on the cathode screen printing process, towards the end of the solid oxide fuel cell manufacturing line at the company's facility in Malta, New York (U.S.)..

Cummins is quickly becoming the leader in a power technology for commercial and industrial uses that could be an important bridge to a carbon-neutral future and beyond.

Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) can convert a higher percentage of a fossil fuel’s energy into power than combustion-based processes and can also use low- and no-carbon fuels such as hydrogen to generate power.

The ability to do both, while producing far fewer heat-trapping gases and emissions than an internal combustion engine or a coal-burning power plant, is getting the technology plenty of attention recently. 

“We need every tool we can get to address the world’s climate challenges and other environmental issues,” said Thad Ewald, Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Cummins. “Solid oxide fuel cells give our customers another way to achieve their environmental sustainability goals.”

Cummins has been awarded two federal grants totaling $4.6 million to advance the commercialization of SOFC technology through separate projects demonstrating both the technology’s ability to convert fossil fuels into energy, and its potential to generate hydrogen and convert it into the ultra-clean energy that will power the future.

SOFCs use a ceramic electrolyte to convert the energy in a fuel to power through a series of electrochemical reactions. With a continuous supply of fuel and oxygen, the fuel cells can be linked or stacked together to power a variety of applications.   

They are viewed as especially promising for stationary applications. Unlike traditional sources of electricity, they don’t need to consume extra fuel to compensate for energy lost over long transmission lines.

Advocates, in fact, envision a day in the near future when SOFCs regularly power major energy users like data centers, effectively removing them from an increasingly over-burdened electrical grid.

THE POTENTIAL BRIDGE    

SOFC testing center
A Cummins employee works at a solid oxide fuel cell test station used for quality assurance and to validate stack performance at the company’s facilities in Malta, New York (U.S.). 

A $2.6 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant will help Cummins build a 20 kilowatt (kW) small-scale SOFC power system at the University of Connecticut, fueled by natural gas but able to use multiple fuels.

The system will run 5,000 hours to demonstrate its durability.

That’s not a big enough SOFC system to power a data center but systems can be aggregated together to provide energy resiliency, security and availability, sufficient for not only data centers but other commercial and industrial applications and microgrids, too.

Cummins’ proposal calls for developing a system that would be available at a price point below $1,000/kW, with the flexibility and robustness for use in smaller and larger systems. The proposal says testing will begin in 2021. 

THE PROMISE OF HYDROGEN

A second project funded with the help of a $2 million DOE grant will look at the cost, performance and reliability of a reversible fuel cell or R-SOFC.

It can run as a traditional SOFC or as a solid oxide electrolyzer cell (SOEC) that can split steam to separate hydrogen and oxygen.

This increases Cummins’ already market leading portfolio of electrolyzers to generate hydrogen, including Proton Exchange Membrane and alkaline technologies. The DOE grant proposal calls for building on a Cummins proprietary thermal spray technology to develop an advanced metal substrate or surface resulting in a 50% cost reduction by using less metal and cutting processing costs. 

Cummins is quickly emerging as the leader in SOFCs for commercial and industrial power. The company’s novel spray technology, for example, enables Cummins to achieve larger cells, higher power densities, increased reliability and lower costs.

The company’s industry leading cell and stack size reduces system costs and complexity while providing a modular building block suitable for a variety of applications. Cummins also uses commodity stainless steel in its cells rather than more expensive and brittle ceramics used by some competitors.  

Cummins' work on SOFCs is consistent with PLANET 2050, the company's environmental sustainability strategy adopted in 2019 to address climate change and other environmental issues. The strategy includes science-based goals aligned with the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by the middle of the century.

Want to learn more about Cummins investments in SOFCs and other fuel cell technologies? Join company leaders including Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger at 10:30 a.m. (EST) Nov. 16 for Cummins’ Hydrogen Day. Click here to register. 
 

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]

 

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