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United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued a Patent (Patent No. US 8,968,697 B2; Date of Patent – March 3, 2015) to ONGC Energy Centre (OEC) Trust and Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai for the innovative research work on “Hydrogen Production Method by Multi-step Copper-Chlorine Thermochemical Cycle”. 

Hydrogen is considered as one of the most efficient and clean emerging sources of energy for transport and power generation applications. The ONGC Energy Centre Trust, set up by ONGC, has been pursuing a program to develop innovative methods to generate hydrogen by splitting water thermo chemically, using heat generated from solar or nuclear energy. Such methods involve carrying out a sequence of chemical reactions at high temperature (550oC – 900oC) that use metals, acids and water. When such processes are carried out in a closed-loop process, they result in splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen while reactants are regenerated. There are challenges in development and integration of these complex chemical reactions at high temperature for which research is being pursued by many countries. 

OEC has been working with the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai since 2007 on a number of collaborative research projects for generating Hydrogen using Copper-Chlorine (Cu-Cl) thermochemical cycle involving a maximum temperature of about 550oC. The initial research on process development and proof-of-concept was successfully completed before filing of Patent. 

Research efforts by ICT and OEC are continuing to develop and demonstrate indigenous integrated facility for closed loop operation of the process for hydrogen generation at a laboratory scale. Key reactors used in this process have been indigenously developed. The Patent holds the potential to open up new vista for generation of hydrogen from water on commercial scale in a sustainable manner in the coming years.

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Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd.
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