New Delhi: India’s first indigenously developed hydrogen fuel cell bus developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and private firm KPIT Ltd was launched on Sunday.
Flagging it off in Pune, Union minister of state for science and technology Jitendra Singh said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Hydrogen Vision’ aims to make the country “aatmanirbhar” (self-reliant) in clean energy, meeting climate change goals and creating employment in the sector.”
What Is Hydrogen Fuel Cell?
The fuel cells work just like conventional batteries found in electric vehicles but they do not run out of charge and don’t need to be recharged with electricity, according to the US Department of Energy. The hydrogen fuel cell continues to produce electricity till there is a supply of hydrogen. Just like conventional cells, a fuel cell consists of an anode (negative electrode) and cathode (positive electrode) sandwiched around an electrolyte.
Hydrogen is fed to the anode and air is fed to the cathode. At the anode, a catalyst separates the hydrogen molecules into protons and electrons and both subatomic particles move in different paths to the cathode, according to the details on the website. The electrons go through an external circuit, creating a flow of electricity that can be used to power electric motors. The protons, on the other hand, move to the cathode through the electrolyte. It is where they unite with oxygen and electrons to produce water and heat.
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The fuel cell utilises hydrogen and air to generate electricity to power the bus, whose only effluent is water, thereby making it possibly the most environment-friendly mode of transportation, the release from the ministry of science & technology said.
What are the benefits of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles?
The operational cost of hydrogen fuel cell trucks is lower than ones run on diesel and this could bring about a freight revolution in the country, the minister said. “About 12-14 per cent of CO2 emissions come from diesel-powered heavy vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles provide excellent means to eliminate on-road emissions in this sector,” Singh said.
Explaining the benefits, Singh said the 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. The minister added that this can bring freight revolution to India.
Are hydrogen fuel cell vehicles environmentally friendly?
Fuel Cell vehicles give zero greenhouse gas emissions. The minister stated that hydrogen-fuelled vehicles provide an excellent means to eliminate the on-road emissions from this sector. “Green hydrogen is an excellent clean energy vector that enables deep decarbonization of difficult-to-abate emissions from the refining industry, fertiliser industry, steel industry, cement industry and also from the heavy commercial transportation sector,” added Singh.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Science & Technology, Singh pointed out that about 12-14 per cent of CO2 emissions and particulate emissions come from diesel-powered heavy commercial vehicles and these are decentralised emissions and hence difficult to capture.
For comparison, 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, the government release mentioned.