New Delhi: Scientists at the New Delhi-based Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have unveiled India’s first indigenously developed fuel cell, a device that turns green fuels into electricity with little carbon footprint.
The device is touted to be the environment-friendly alternative to noisy diesel generators that are widely used today.
The CSIR partnered with Thermax Ltd, a Pune-based engineering firm engaged in energy and environment solutions, to create the ‘High Temperature Fuel Cell System’ under the ‘New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI)’, the country’s largest public-private partnership effort within the research and development domain.
Traditional generators, which serve as portable electricity production units, run on diesel and cause heavy carbon emissions. They are also notorious for the noise they generate.
The new 5 kilowatt fuel cell system, meanwhile, is a silent device.
The fuel cell prototype, which was unveiled at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, on CSIR Foundation Day last week, converts fuels like methanol, bio-methane and ethanol into electricity, generating water and heat as byproducts.
“This prototype delivers power with about 70 per cent efficiency. It also works as a mini-heater,” said Dr R.R. Sonde of Thermax Ltd at the unveiling event. “It is a silent power generating unit and has very low carbon footprint.”
Sonde added that the product will “displace diesel generators” and also reduce India’s dependence on oil imports.
The prototype is a result of more than a decade of continuous research and development efforts of CSIR’s three Laboratories: National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, and Central Electro Chemical Research Institute, Karaikudi, along with Thermax Limited.
The team behind its development said it can be used to power telecom towers, and serve as a portable source of electricity and heating for small indoor offices.
The device, however, is still not ready for commercialisation. The team will continue to conduct further trials and research to reduce cost and scale up production.
Over the next six months, the fuel cell units will be field-tested at different locations all over the country.
The event where the fuel cell was unveiled was attended by President Ram Nath Kovind, Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan and CSIR director general Shekhar Mande, among others.