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IIT-Delhi professor tames hydrogen for engines

According to reports, an IIT Professor, who is hoping to us give a clean, green and hopefully inexpensive fuel, has developed an alternative to petrol and diesel. It’s a dream Professor L M Das of the Centre for Energy Studies at IIT Delhi nourished for 25 years, using Hydrogen gas as an automobile fuel.

“Hydrogen can be made from both renewable and non-renewable sources. It’s made from water. On combustion, it gives back water. The noxious emission from burning petroleum products is almost completely absent here,” said Professor Das.

Conventional engines aren’t designed to burn hydrogen, a highly explosive gas. Professor Das perfected a special electronic ignition system that feeds the engine tiny quantities of gas. After testing it for years in labs like the one at IIT Delhi, Das took it on road.

Fifteen such three wheelers have been safely ferrying passengers at Pragati Maidan in Delhi for the past four months. Just one kg of gas is enough for 70 km. Fuelled by a company called AIR products, they’re the only successful hydrogen powered engines in the world.

“Abroad, they concentrate on fuel cells. But in India, internal combustion engines have already been operated on CNG. So graduating from CNG to hydrogen would be easier,” said Professor Das.

Professor Das’s family is very proud. An international consortium will take the work forward and it’s received a $500 million grant from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation. Das himself won an award from Lockheed Martin and India’s Department of Science and Technology in 2012.

The only problem is, making the hydrogen that drives the machine is still expensive. Mahindra is running a pilot project in Delhi and if that’s successful, you could see one of these vehicles on a street near you.

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