GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.
Ministry of Railways has decided to close down the Indian Railways Organization for Alternate Fuels’ with effect from September 7, 2021.
The closure comes nearly a month after the IROAF had floated a tender for “hydrogen fuel cell-based technology” for retrofitting the existing Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU).
- All work-related to hydrogen fuel cells, including their tenders, will now be transferred to the Northern Railways.
Indian Railways are set to run trains on hydrogen fuel based technology under ‘Mission Net Zero Carbon Emission Railway’ by 2030.
What is Hydrogen fuel?
- Hydrogen is the lightest and first element on the periodic table. Since the weight of hydrogen is less than air, it rises in the atmosphere and is therefore rarely found in its pure form, H2.
- At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odorless, tasteless, colorless, and highly combustible diatomic gas.
Occurrence of Hydrogen:
- Molecular hydrogen is not available on Earth in convenient natural reservoirs.
- Most hydrogen on Earth is bonded to oxygen in water and to carbon in live or dead and/or fossilized biomass. It can be created by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Significance of Hydrogen Based economy:
- Due to its ability to power fuel cells in zero-emission electric vehicles, its potential for domestic production, and the fuel cell’s potential for high efficiency hydrogen is considered an alternative.
- Water is the only by-product that results from the usage of hydrogen fuel that makes the fuel 100 per cent clean.
- Hydrogen can also serve as fuel for internal combustion engines.
- The energy in 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of hydrogen gas contains about the same as the energy in 1 gallon (6.2 pounds, 2.8 kilograms) of gasoline.
Government Missions towards hydrogen fuel:
- The Finance Minister in the Union budget for 2020-21 formally announced the National Hydrogen Mission which aims for generation of hydrogen from green power resources.
- The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has also disclosed that the draft regulations for NHM will be finalised by the end of this month and will thereafter proceed for approval of the Union Cabinet.
Challenges for India:
- Economic sustainability of extracting green or blue hydrogen.
- The technology used in production and use of hydrogen like carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen fuel cell technology are at nascent stage and are expensive which in turn increases the cost of production of hydrogen.
- The maintenance costs for fuel cells post-completion of a plant can be costly, like in South Korea.
- The commercial usage of hydrogen as a fuel and in industries requires mammoth investment in R&D of such technology and infrastructure for production, storage, transportation and demand creation for hydrogen.
Hydrogen has been stored as compressed gas or cryogenic liquid, and transported as such in cylinders, tubes, and cryogenic tanks for use in industry or as propellant in space programs. Read more about this here.
- About Hydrogen fuel.
- Why is it called a clean fuel?
- Production and storage.
Discuss the significance of Hydrogen as a fuel.