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
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.
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.