Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Research and Development Centre of IndianOil Corporation Limited signed an MoU on October 29, 2020 to develop and demonstrate biomass gasification-based hydrogen generation technology for producing fuel cell-grade hydrogen at an affordable price.
Under this MOU, IISc and IndianOil will work jointly on the optimisation of both biomass gasification and hydrogen purification processes. The developed technology will be scaled up and demonstrated at IndianOil’s R&D Centre at Faridabad. Hydrogen generated from this demonstration plant will be used to power fuel cell buses as part of a bigger project being conceived by IndianOil towards ushering in the country’s hydrogen economy.
Speaking on the occasion, IISc’s Director Prof G Rangarajan encouraged the academia-industry collaboration and highlighted contributions made by Prof S Dasappa at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies and currently the Chair at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research for utilising biomass, which would go a long way in meeting de-carbonisation needs. Briefing on the hydrogen economy and India’s initiative, Dr. Ramakumar, Director (R&D), IndianOil, laid out the landscape for distributed bio-hydrogen.
Hydrogen is a promising clean and green alternative to conventional fossil fuels. Hydrogen-based fuel cell technology is a sustainable green mobility solution for India. Fuel cell electric vehicles are powered by hydrogen and emit only pure water as tailpipe emissions. Fuel cell technology for an automotive application requires ultrapure hydrogen with impurities less than ppb level.
Indian Oil Corporation has been pioneering hydrogen research in the country and has recently launched trials on 50 buses in Delhi using hydrogen-CNG as a fuel, based on IndianOil’s patented single-step reforming technology.
Biomass gasification-based hydrogen production has the potential to produce hydrogen at the most economical price with relatively lower carbon emissions compared to other technologies. The hydrogen production technology based on biomass gasification developed by IISc comprises processes for producing hydrogen-rich syngas from biomass and separation of hydrogen from syngas. The Institute has worked extensively on biomass gasification and developed an innovative process for the production of hydrogen-rich syngas. It has been demonstrated in a small-scale prototype at the IISc campus.
The current initiative of producing fuel cell grade hydrogen from biomass is another step by IndianOil together with IISc to bring hydrogen fuel into India’s mainstream energy matrix while utilising the agrarian strengths of the country. The technology envisaged under this programme would not only provide a cleaner energy option for India but will also be a step towards addressing the challenge of biomass waste.