The Hindu Business Line

Clean fuel: Pilot project in Varanasi for vehicles to run on hydrogen

TVS Group to supply 3-wheelers to be used for test drive

- M SOMASEKHAR

Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh has been chosen to test a pilot project involving 50 three-wheelers to be run on hydrogen as a clean fuel by an institute-industry and government collaborat­ion.

Tech from BHU

The constituen­cy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a Smart City to be developed by India-Japan efforts will see these vehicles fitted with a tank, which stores the hydrogen fuel in the form of hydrides. The three-wheelers will be supplied by the Chennaibas­ed TVS Group. The technology to produce hydrogen from water, store and power automobile­s has been developed by the Benares Hindu University (BHU).

The Centre for Hydrogen Energy led by ON Srivastava has been working over a decade on a technique of replacing anodes with nano-structured titanium dioxide as photo electrodes to maximise extraction of hydrogen. The photo electrode is expected to increase production of hydrogen by nearly 50 per cent during photo electroche­mical process for producing the gas.

Autoricksh­aws in campus

The BHU Centre has demonstrat­ed the technology for twoand three-wheelers which run on hydrogen under different projects supported by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) and the Department of Science & Technology. At present, five autoricksh­aws are plying on the university campus with the hydride fuel tank and run for 70-80 km on each filling.

Hydrogen is a light gas and its storage is a major challenge. It is, therefore, stored in the form of hydrides and extracted by raising the temperatur­e. “We are studying the storage of hydrogen in some new nano materials and composite type alanates to achieve a matured hydrogen technology,” Srivastava told BusinessLi­ne here.

The MNRE will support the pilot project. An expert committee led by K Kasturiran­gan (former Chairman, ISRO) had recommende­d eight mission mode projects. One of these is the use of hydrogen fuel and the Varanasi project will be part of it. Srivastava, who was participat­ing in the 5th Internatio­nal Conference on Hydrogen Fuel Cells in Hyderabad recently said seeing the eco-friendly nature, the BHU is developing room heaters and substitute­s for LPG cylinders based on hydrogen gas.

Initiative­s

Though efforts to tap hydrogen began over a decade ago, the progress has not been as expected. Several initiative­s were launched to tap it as a fuel with different applicatio­ns, as well as find cost-effective ways of producing, storing, etc, with Indian Oil being a major player.

A consortia of IIT Delhi, Mahindra and Air Products US fabricated a hydrogen powered, three-wheeler called ‘HyAlfa’ a couple of years ago and demonstrat­ed in Pragati Maidan. The project was funded by the UNIDO.

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