A team of researchers from the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has developed an innovative technology that promises to produce hydrogen from the abundantly available biomass itself instead of the traditional raw material of fossil fuels.
India uses nearly 50 lakh tonnes of hydrogen for various processes in different sectors, and the hydrogen market is expected to grow substantially in the coming years. But most of the hydrogen presently comes from fossil fuels through a process called the steam methane reforming route.
The new environment-friendly process consists of two steps. In the first step, biomass is converted into syngas – a hydrogen-rich fuel gas mixture – in a novel reactor using oxygen and steam. In the second step, pure hydrogen is generated from the syngas using an indigenously developed low-pressure gas separation unit.
Announcing the development, an IISc press release noted that the new technology was also significant as it produced 100 g of hydrogen from one kg of biomass even though only 60 g of hydrogen is present in 1 kg of biomass. This is because the steam, which also contains hydrogen, participated in the reaction.
The process, it added, is environmentally friendly for another reason too. It is carbon negative. It has two carbon byproducts. One is solid carbon, which serves as a carbon sink, and the other is carbon dioxide, which can be used in other value-added products.
The project was supported by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India. The team also acknowledged the assistance of the Indian Oil Corporation Limited in scaling up the technology to produce 0.25 tonnes of hydrogen per day for use in hydrogen-powered fuel cell buses.
Dr. S. Dasappa, team leader and Professor at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies, and Chair of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research at IISc, said, that the technology dovetails nicely with the Government of India’s National Hydrogen Energy Roadmap initiative, aimed at promoting the use of hydrogen as a fuel and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. In addition, the green hydrogen could also be used in the steel industry to decarbonise steel, in agriculture industry to manufacture green fertilisers, and in many sectors currently using hydrogen produced from fossil fuels. Further, the same platform can also be used for methanol and ethanol production. It is a step towards achieving the Prime Minister’s goal of Atmanirbhar Bharat, he adds. (India Science Wire)