India’s First Indigenously Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus

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    In Context

    • Recently, India’s first indigenously developed Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) Bus was launched in Pune.

    More about the news

    • About:
      • The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus is a product of the joint development efforts by KPIT and CSIR-NCL (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Chemical Laboratory).
        • KPIT Technologies Limited:
          • It is a technology company headquartered in Pune, Maharashtra, India. 
    • Downstream process technology:
      • The uniqueness of the process developed by CSIR-NCL is a novel downstream process technology, which makes this indigenous technology competitive with global benchmarks. 
      • The process is ready for technology transfer and further co-development to commercial scale.

    What is Hydrogen Fuel?

    • Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel burned with oxygen
    • It can be used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines. 
    • It is also used as a fuel for spacecraft propulsion.
    • It can be manufactured by 
      • Electrolysis of water by using direct current.
      • Natural Gas Reforming/Gasification: 
        • Natural Gas on reaction with steam produces Synthesis gas.
        • Synthetic gas is a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a small amount of carbon dioxide.
      • Fermentation: 
        • Biomass is converted into sugar-rich feedstocks that can be fermented to produce hydrogen.
    • It is then stored after mixing or converting to ammonia or synthetic gas for easy liquefaction and transport.

    Types of Hydrogen Fuel

    • Grey Hydrogen: 
      • Manufactured using Natural Gas without carbon sequestration
    • Brown Hydrogen: 
      • Manufactured using Coal without carbon sequestration.
    • Blue Hydrogen: 
      • Manufactured using Natural Gas with carbon sequestration.
    • Green Hydrogen: 
      • Manufactured using Renewable Energy.

     

    Significance

    • Green hydrogen: 
      • It is an excellent clean energy vector that enables deep decarbonization of difficult-to-abate emissions from the industries like 
        • Refining industry, 
        • Fertiliser industry, 
        • Steel industry, 
        • Cement industry 
        • And also from the heavy commercial transportation sector.
    • The most environmentally friendly mode of transportation:
      • The fuel cell utilizes Hydrogen and Air to generate electricity to power the bus. 
      • The only effluent from the bus is water and could be the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation to date.
        • Comparing with diesel-powered bus:
          • A single diesel bus plying on long-distance routes typically emits 100 tons of CO2 annually and there are over a million such buses in India.
      • Zero greenhouse gas emissions:
        • Hydrogen fuelled vehicles provide an excellent means to eliminate the on-road emissions from the heavy commercial transportation sector.
        • About 12-14% CO2 emissions and particulate emissions come from diesel powered heavy commercial vehicles and these are decentralised emissions and hence difficult to capture.
    • Efficiency and cost effectiveness:
      • High efficiency of fuel cell vehicles and the high energy density of hydrogen ensures that the operational costs in rupees per kilometre for fuel cell trucks and buses are lower than diesel-powered vehicles 
      • This could also bring a freight revolution in India.
    • India’s role as an exporter:
      • India can pole-vault from being a net importer of fossil energy to becoming a net exporter of clean hydrogen energy. 
      • India thus, has a potential of providing global leadership in hydrogen space by becoming a large green hydrogen producer and supplier of equipment for green hydrogen.
    • Better than electric vehicles:
      • They enable a refuelling time of just 5 minutes, compared to 30-45 minutes of charging for a Battery operated Electric Vehicle.
      • Also, cars get better energy storage per unit volume and weight, freeing up a lot of space for other things.
      • It is also effective for sectors that cannot be electrified like shipping and air travel.

    About National Hydrogen Mission

    • Aim:
      • The government’s aim is to make India a global hub for the production and export of green hydrogen.
    • About:
      • It was proposed in the Union Budget 2021.
      • It is a clean-burning molecule, which can decarbonise a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.
    • Potential:
      • The initiative has the potential of transforming transportation.
      • This will help in meeting the target of production of 5 million tonnes of Green hydrogen by 2030 and the related development of renewable energy capacity.
    • Major Activities to be carried out under the Mission:
    • Creating volumes and infrastructure
    • Demonstrations in niche applications 
    • Goal-oriented Research & Development
    • Facilitative policy support
    • A robust framework for standards and regulations for hydrogen technologies

    Significance for India in pursuing green hydrogen

    • Under the Paris Agreement of 2015, India is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 33-35% from the 2005 levels.
      • It is a legally binding international treaty on climate change with the goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels. 
    • At the 2021 Conference of Parties in Glasgow, India reiterated its commitment to move from a fossil and import-dependent economy to a net-zero economy by 2070. 
      • India’s average annual energy import bill is more than $100 billion.
    • The increased consumption of fossil fuel has made the country a high carbon dioxide (CO2) emitter, accounting for nearly 7% of the global CO2 burden. 
    • In order to become energy independent by 2047, the government stressed the need to introduce green hydrogen as an alternative fuel that can make India the global hub and a major exporter of hydrogen.
    • Hydrogen energy can provide impetus to India’s aim to decarbonise by 2050 and attain 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022.

    Source: TH