Vehicles running on hydrogen as fuel may soon become a reality in India as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, in association with automobile technology company KPIT has successfully done the maiden test run of a hydrogen powered car with indigenously developed fuel cells.
The CSIR and KPIT developed a 10 kWe (1,000 watts of electrical power) automotive grade low-temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cell (LT-PEMFC) stack based on CSIR's membrane electrode assembly know-how. Pune-based KPIT, a software technology developer for global auto majors, brought in their expertise in stack engineering which included light-weight metal bipolar plate and gasket design, development of the balance of plant (BoP), system integration, control software and electric powertrain that enabled running the fuel cell vehicle.
The FC vehicle was fitted with a hydrogen tank with 1.75 kg of H2 stored at about 350 bar pressure (a unit to measure pressure). The FC vehicle is capable of running 250 km under typical Indian road conditions at 60-65 km per hour. The entire fuel cell stack and its associated components with power train were retro-fitted in a standard 5-seater sedan car.
In 2016, CSIR-NCL as part of the Industry Originated Project (IOP) category of the New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) scheme partnered with KPIT for the development of an automotive grade PEM Fuel Cell technology. Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) technology uses chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen (from air) to generate electrical energy, eliminating the use of fossil fuels.
India is yet to commercially manufacture vehicles run on hydrogen as fuel, though the Government in June had come out with draft regulatory guidelines for hydrogen-powered vehicles. Korean car maker Hyundai is expected to launch a hydrogen powered sports utility vehicle in India by next year, said sources.
"The technology has a great future and owing to its indigenous development, is expected to be more commercially viable than ever before," said Ravi Pandit, Chairman, KPIT. Prof. Ashwini Kumar Nangia, Director, CSIR-NCL said the time has come for renewable energy based on hydrogen as fuel to power transportation in the country. He added the technology would reduce the country's fuel import bill, and also be eco friendly as water would the only by-product.