On March 3, Aranayak Fuel and Power will break ground on its Rs 50-crore, 1 tonne-per-day, biomass-based green hydrogen plant in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh. The company had signed an MoU with the state government during the recently held ‘global investors’ meet’ in Uttar Pradesh.  

The plant, which aims to begin production of green hydrogen on August 15, will be India’s first commercial-scale biomass-based green hydrogen project.  

(Business Line had reported in February 2022 that the distinction of being the country’s first large-scale biomass-based hydrogen plant could well go to a 1 TPD plant of Watamo Energies, that was to come up in Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh. But it is learnt that the project is behind schedule.)  

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Aranayak Fuel and Power, a company set up by a group of Uttar Pradesh businessmen, will consume 30 TPD of biomass (wood scrap) and produce hydrogen at a cost of around Rs 700 a kg. Biezel Green Energy, a company set up by Prof Preetham Singh of IIT, BHU, is the technology provider. Prof Singh has developed a ‘thermally accelerated anerobic digestor’ (TAD), which is a reactor that produces hydrogen, methane and bio-coal from biomass.  

Prof Singh told businessline that many companies, notably Hindalco, had come forward to buy the hydrogen; so, selling was not a problem. The process also produces 3.6 TPD of methane and 7.5 TPD of bio-coal as co-products; GAIL will buy the gas. 

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He explained that the TAD technology involves a “novel fractionation process”, capable of extracting 30-40 grams of hydrogen, 120 grams of methane and 250 g of bio-coal from a kg of biomass, assuming the gross calorific value of biomass at 7,000 kcal/kg. To put it in another way, the reactor would use 30 kWhr of electricity and 30 kg of biomass to produce 1 kg of fuel-cell grade hydrogen and other co-products. 

Swaraj Green Power and Fuel Ltd, promoted by Ranjeetsinha Hindurao Naik-Nimbalkar, BJP MP from Madha, Maharashtra, is putting up a 3.5 TPD of biomass-based green hydrogen, with Biezel Green’s technology, investing roughly Rs 100 crore. 

Many experts have noted that in agri-residue-rich India, the biomass route is the better than the electrolysis route for producing green hydrogen. At the India Energy Week that was held in Bengaluru earlier this month, Indian Oil Corporation’s Director-R&D, Dr SSV Ramakumar, described the biomass-route as “very, very promising”, that does not suffer from the demerits of electrolysis, such as the requirement of large quantities of pure water.