IIT develops India's 1st device for ultra-pure hydrogen

IIT Varanasi develops India's first device for on-site production of ultra-pure hydrogen

The device is based on membrane technology for production of hydrogen from methanol

The researchers claimed the technology can provide clean power for electric vehicles. Credit: Reuters Photo

Scientists at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Varanasi (BHI) claim to have developed a first-of-its-kind device for on-site production of ultra-pure hydrogen.

According to the team, at a time when India has committed to zero net emissions by 2070 at the COP26 climate summit, this is a major development in the nation's sustainable development doals, as the device is 100 per cent indigenous, with every component made in IIT (Banaras Hindu University) facilities.

"Easily installable in petrol pumps, some of the critical needs the device delivers include generating hydrogen for hydrogen vehicles, making charging of electric vehicles easy and supply of power to mobile towers, among others. The compact and ergonomically designed device caters towards sustainability and portrays socio and economic benefits," said Rajesh Kumar Upadhyay, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Technology.

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"It is based on membrane technology for on-site production of ultra-pure hydrogen from methanol. It generates hydrogen, which is fed to the fuel cell to generate power (electricity). Further, the produced power can be used for EV charging, supplying power to mobile towers, and can also be installed at petrol pumps to generate hydrogen for hydrogen-based vehicles," he said.

Upadhyay claimed that the device is easy to use and covers a minimum space of 2 square metre (m2) area. Moreover, it requires only 0.6 lit/hr of methanol for the production of around 900 lit/hr of hydrogen.

The government recently launched the National Hydrogen Mission and National Electric Mobility Mission Plan to reduce the carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels.

"However, it pertains to two major concerns -- firstly, charging EVs through clean and green energy and secondly, commercialising hydrogen energy's storage and transportation. We recently demonstrated this device and produced 1kW power by integrating it with a PEM fuel cell. The team is also developing a self-sustaining device that will not require any external energy for its operation," he said.

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Upadhyay and his team are also working to make a similar device that can be operated using natural gas. It will produce hydrogen at a much lower cost and will be even more compact. The project is funded by GAIL (India) Ltd. He said that soon, he will start testing the natural gas-based device for on-site hydrogen generation.

Pramod Kumar Jain, Director of IIT (BHU) Varanasi, said, "The developed device can potentially change the hydrogen energy prospects in India and make hydrogen an energy source for fuelling India's transportation and power needs. This technology can be a turning point not only in the research areas but also to each and every individual in one way or the other."

"With efficient experts and researchers on board, the institute is working on all aspects of hydrogen energy and is willing to establish a centre of excellence in the institute to accommodate the production and utilisation of hydrogen energy for useful applications, especially in the transport and mobile sector," he said.

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