Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fuel cell progress and the path for India:

While number of good developments have been reported in fuel cell technology in the areas of materials, fabrication, modeling and so on, good progress has also been recorded in the field of commercial applications, in the year 2008. Some notable developments are as follows:

(a) The launch of Honda FCX Clarity, the world's first dedicated platform hydrogen vehicle. It's the zero-emission sedan of the future.

(b) Order for 30,000 Ceres Power CHP units by British Gas, 50,000 Ceramic Fuel Cells CHP units by Nuon and 30,000 Idatech UPS units by Acme in India. The significant aspect of the Acme deal is it has come about purely through fuel cells being seen as the most commercially competitive option of all the means of generating electricity for powering telecoms masts in India. The fuel cell units are fueled by natural gas.

(c) In addition, there is an immediate demand in India for reliable backup power for high-end and mission-critical applications such as luxury hotels, shopping malls and hospitals. The Indian companies are increasingly looking to buy, license from or create joint ventures with the other companies possessing know-how to manufacture fuel cells in India. Besides opening a new export market for India, this aspect has a potential to reduce the unit cost of production.

(d) A big growth area for the future has emerged, namely the possibility of using DMFC to power electric bikes for the postal delivery.

(e) The DMFC powered laptops and mobile phones are likely to come up in the near future. The recent patent literature reveals the attempts to improve durability and power density of DMFC and also to reduce the size and weight of these consumer products.

Source: FuelCellToday, 17 December 2008

Fuel for the fuel cells:

The National Hydrogen Energy Road Map prepared by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Government of India, mentions as follows:

"The Green Initiative for Power Generation (GIP) envisages developing and demonstrating hydrogen powered IC engine/turbine and fuel cell based decentralized power generating systems ranging from small watt capacity to MW size systems through different phases of technology development and demonstration. This initiative would help the country in providing clean energy in a decentralized manner to rural and remote areas, besides power generation for the urban centres. It is envisaged in the Roadmap that decentralized hydrogen based power generation of about 1,000 MW aggregate capacity would be set up in the country by 2020".

The plan envisages use of hydrogen fuel both for the IC engine as well as the fuel cell.The generation of 1000 MW power by 2020 will require a huge quantity of hydrogen. An economically feasible commercial process for hydrogen generation will have to be put in place for that purpose. Besides that, infrastructure will have to be created for safe storage, extensive transportation and delivery of hydrogen. The creation of these facilities before 2020 appears to be quite difficult, going by the present stage of development hydrogen production processes and available infrastructure. Hence it will be worthwhile to lay greater emphasis on the biomass based fuel for the fuel cells and the IC engines, such as methanol, ethanol. We should use non-food biomass, such as switch grass, as raw material for the manufacture of ethanol. Manufacturing biodiesel on large scale should also be paid attention.

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