India’s first hydrogen fuel cell electric hybrid vehicle (HFC) has successfully completed its first test drive.
This technology is the result of a collaborative effort by scientists from two laboratories of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) and the Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), as well as KPIT with offices in Pune.
The technology, which has been in development for over four years, could reduce dependence on gasoline and diesel once it is introduced to markets. This could mean reduced emissions of pollutants from fuel combustion in cars.
In HFC technology, hydrogen gas from an onboard gas cylinder interacts with a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) at the anode side to produce protons (positively charged particles) and electrons (negatively charged particles). Protons, passing through the proton exchange membrane, interact with oxygen from the local air available on the cathode side to form water. The electrons travel through the external circuit and generate electricity.
“Unlike fossil fuel vehicles, which emit polluting gases such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, the only byproduct in HFC technology is water,” said Harshwardhan Paul, project manager at NCL, in an interview with The Indian express.
In a recent demonstration, KPIT used an existing battery-powered vehicle in which a 10 kW (kWe) battery of cells was retrofitted.
Dipesh Gujarathi, project manager for KPIT, said a vehicle can travel at least 400 km in a single hydrogen refueling cycle.
Experts believe this hybrid vehicle will only need to be serviced once every five years.
“The cell sets can be easily exchanged. We estimate such a need only after passing at least 20,000 hours of continuous operation, ”Gujarathi said.
But in order to make this technology commercially available, it will be necessary to create a hydrogen refueling infrastructure, such as charging or filling stations for electric, gasoline or diesel vehicles.