ONGC has embarked on a mission to create an Energy Centre focused on conducting research on marketable solutions in alternate energy. The genesis of the Centre is from the growing realization that oil production is likely to peak soon and there is a need to find implementable alternate energy solutions. This realization has significant implications for ONGC’s business & for the nation at large.
ONGC has set up the ONGC Energy Centre (OEC) for research in renewable and alternate energy sources beyond hydrocarbons, which can be brought to market. The objective is in line with the vision of ONGC to become an integrated energy company and not just restrict itself to oil and gas. The Centre was pioneered by former-CMD Late Mr Subir Raha with motto “Mind to Market”. The ONGC Energy Centre aims to conduct research in alternate energy specifically focusing on projects which have the potential to make an impact on India’s energy scene. The Centre does not stop at just R&D, but pursues beyond to “demonstrate for commercialization”.
The ONGC Energy Centre functions under the aegis of the ONGC Energy Centre Trust, which was established under Indian Trust Act on August 8, 2005. The Chairman of the Trust is the CMD of ONGC, Mr Sudhir Vasudeva. The Trust members include ONGC Directors-Exploration, T&FS, Finance & HR, and MD-OVL. Eminent persons from the field of Energy Padma Vibhushan Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, Padma Bhushan Dr. Kirit S. Parikh, Former Member (Energy)-Planning Commission and Padma Shri Dr. S. Sivaram, CSIR Bhatnagar Fellow, Former Director-National Chemical Laboratory are also members of the Board of Trustees.
ONGC Energy Centre’s Vision & Mission
“Harness science and technology to meet national energy needs of tomorrow in a clean and sustainable manner…”
With respect and care for environment,
With regards for sustainability,
With focus on innovation and creativity
- To develop clean, practical and affordable energy solutions through research & development as well as demonstration leading to commercialization
- To provide work bench to young, talented, innovative, restless minds for proving and actualizing worthy ideas
- Think, scan, network globally by spanning 360 degrees, while firmly rooted locally
The ONGC Energy Centre has a unique operating model – minimal full time employees, project-based teams, flexible compensation structure and a culture that supports research, creativity, renewal and transmigration of ideas.
The OEC is headed by a Director-General and has three organizational units: Technical Research Unit, Research Advisory Unit & Administrative Support Unit. The Technical Research Unit is the key operational unit responsible for implementation and coordination of research projects. The Research Advisory Unit is responsible for generating new ideas, evaluation and selection of research projects by providing high quality decision-critical information. The Administrative Support Unit provides all necessary administrative, HR, IT & Accounting/Commercial support to the other units of ONGC Energy Centre.
There is an Advisory Committee comprising of eminent personalities with expertise and experience in various fields. The committee screens the various R&D proposals and also monitors the progress of the projects.
Presently, the OEC has its offices in Delhi, Ahmedabad and Mumbai (Panvel).
ONGC Energy Centre has been implementing Research Projects in several new and alternative sources of energy for the last several years. These Projects are in advanced stages of implementation, in collaboration with various national and international academic, research and industrial organizations. ONGC Energy Centre has decided to prepare a perspective plan for the Centre for period up to 2030. As a part of this initiative, various options are being evaluated, with a view to expand the research and technology development activities, as well as to consolidate some of the ongoing efforts of OEC.
The salient features of the ongoing research projects are as follows:
1. Hydrogen Generation through Thermochemical Processes
Hydrogen is a clean energy carrier. It is abundant on earth, but in combined form in several compounds, the most common being water. However, producing hydrogen from water is energy intensive. It is imperative to research methods to generate hydrogen from water in an energy efficient way.
OEC has taken initiative to work on development of thermochemical processes for decomposition of water utilizing waste nuclear and/or solar heat. From among various possible options, development of closed-loop Copper-Chlorine (Cu-Cl) and closed/ partially open-loop Iodine-Sulfur (I-S) cycles have been taken up under this project. The highest temperatures required for these processes are 550 oC and 900 oC, respectively. This work is being pursued in collaboration with various academic and research institutes. This project has been divided into 11 sub-projects for the I-S cycle and 5 sub-projects for Cu-Cl cycle. IIT-Delhi, Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Technological University (BATU), Lonere & Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai have worked with OEC in this activity. Currently, ICT is working on development of laboratory scale engineering process using Cu-Cl cycle.
2. Exploration for Uranium
ONGC has so far drilled more than 10,000 wells, many of which have shown the presence of uranium on GRS logs. Secondary uranium mineralization at shallow depths is reflected on Spectral Gamma Ray Log or in its absence, by high gamma ray counts on gamma ray log, which is one of the essential logs of the logging suite, recorded in wells drilled for exploration/exploitation of hydrocarbons. Secondary uranium mineralization at shallow depths has been observed in several petroliferous basins in the world.
OEC has undertaken a project to analyze the well log data of ONGC to delineate locations of probable uranium mineralization in the sedimentary basins of India. Parametric wells are drilled at identified locations, cored and logged for Spectral Gamma Ray for confirmation of the presence of Uranium, amenable to extraction from host rock by In-Situ Leaching (ISL) technique. The cores, recovered from zones of interest, are analyzed in laboratories through geological, geochemical and radiological methods, for determining the actual Uranium concentration and its leachability. OEC has entered into MoU with the Atomic Minerals Directorate, Hyderabad for these activities.
OEC has also undertaken drilling of shallow holes (up to 500 m) for collection of cores and logs to determine the presence of Uranium and other value added minerals. Studies, carried out so far, have helped in identification of some potential areas with appreciable presence of Uranium. Designing of chemical reagents for in-situ leaching of uranium from sedimentary rocks is also planned. A comprehensive program for studying the well logs from Indian sedimentary basins has been taken up by OEC.
3. Solar Thermal Project
The Solar Thermal Engines installed by OEC at Solar Energy Centre, Gurgaon
Solar Energy can be converted to heat and/or electricity using solar thermal or photovoltaic route. There are several methods to generate electricity using solar thermal route. One of the methods is using a combination of solar dish with a stirling engine to produce electricity. Stirling engine is considered to be one of the most efficient heat engines. One of the advantages of using these engines is that no water is required.
OEC is currently working on field performance evaluation of solar thermal dish stirling engine system, developed by a US company. Three units, which generate grid quality AC electricity of 230V, 50 Hz, are installed & operational at the Solar Energy Centre of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy at Gurgaon.
Each engine along with linear alternator is capable of producing up to 3 kW peak power at solar insolation of 850 W/m2. With further R & D, the overall output & efficiency of the solar dish Stirling engines can be enhanced. During no-sun hours, it is possible to use biogas, natural gas or stored heat to get power.
4. Bioconversion of Lignite to Methane
With the increasing demand for energy for development and the growing concern for climate change and the need to limit greenhouse gas emissions, it is necessary to find out efficient and cleaner ways to utilize our coal reserves. There are also many coal seams, which cannot be mined. There are several types of microbes, acting in tandem (as a consortia), which can generate methane from coal and oil. A unique consortium of microbes is required for each coal seam/oil reservoir. Research is underway to identify the specific consortia that can act on different seams/reservoirs.
OEC had taken the initiative to undertake research on development of biotechnological process for conversion of lignite/ coal to methane gas and humic acid. Humic acid, which increases the availability of soil nutrients, is a good plant growth enhancer and thus finds wide application in agriculture and horticulture.
A collaborative project with IIT-Kharagpur to generate methane and humic acid from lignite in surface conditions as well as in-situ is in progress. The biotechnology for production of methane and humic acid from lignite has been developed in the laboratory. Based on the developed biotechnology, mini-pilot scale studies for surface production of methane and humic acid are in progress.
OEC, along with Gujarat Industries Power Company Ltd. (GIPCL), has taken up initial field experiments on lignite mines at Vastan, Gujarat. Injectivity tests and chemical process of humic acid production have been successfully carried out in the field. Further experiments in deeper lignite seams with full overburden are planned. On successful completion of these experiments, the un-mineable deeper lignite / coal seams and any other thin seams at greater depth can be converted into useful methane.
5. Kinetic Hydro Power
There are extensive opportunities to generate electric power using kinetic energy available in any flowing water stream, without construction of dams for storage of water.
Floating turbines can be used to harness the kinetic energy of flowing streams of rivers or tail-race of existing dams to generate electricity for powering un-electrified homes as well as meeting distributed power requirement for agriculture and industrial applications.
OEC is working with M/s Natural Power Concepts (NPC), USA for field trials of their recently developed In-stream Auger Turbine (IAT) in Indian conditions. On successful completion of field trials, these turbines will be deployed in India.
6. Geothermal Energy
Geothermal energy can be harnessed by extracting Heat from the Earth by drilling water or steam wells in a process similar to drilling for oil.
During the past decade, the feasibility of generating electricity from relatively low-temperature geothermal resources in sedimentary basins has been demonstrated in many countries. Deep and hot aquifers in the sedimentary basin can be used as source of Geothermal Energy.
In western India, the Cambay basin is underlain by the Deccan trap and has geothermal gradient, with many known permeable formations at different depth levels, which can be utilized for harnessing Geothermal Energy. A Belgium based company M/s. Talboom is collaborating with OEC to set up a pilot power project in Cambay basin.
Extensive data available from the Cambay basin has been studied to identify the target area for the pilot. The subsurface heat flow modeling in the identified area is under way. The location for the first well will be finalized soon and the drilling of the well is planned this year.