Isro scientists develop hydrogen fuel cells to power bus

Isro scientists develop hydrogen fuel cells to power bus

Bangalore: India’s space scientists have developed hydrogen fuel cells to power an automobile bus by leveraging their know-how of the homegrown cryogenic technology for rockets.

The two-year effort has yielded positive results and the scientists are now readying for the fuel cells to be fitted into a bus.

“That’s not exactly the cryogenic technology... (It’s) liquid hydrogen handling and that’s where we have some expertise. So, we have finalised the design", Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, G Madhavan Nair said.

According to Honorary Adviser of Isro V Gnana Gandhi leading the technical team in this project, Isro and Tata Motors entered into an MoU in 2006 to design and develop an automobile bus using hydrogen as a fuel through fuel cell route.

Nair said: “Tatas are taking the responsibility for the locomotive part of it, and hydrogen handling system also. First protomodel has been assembled. Results are good. May be next year, it should be on the road."

Gandhi said: “We are planning to integrate the system in the first quarter of next year (January-March 2009), and vehicle integration in the second quarter".

He said the hydrogen cells are a spin-off of the cryogenic technology that Isro has been developing for the last few years.

Isro officials said the agency entered into a tie-up with Tata Motors because it did not have expertise in automobiles.

Gandhi said the Isro team had generated technical specifications for all the elements and general specifications for the bus, while preliminary and detailed design review for all components and subsystems have been completed.

Flow and thermal analysis for critical components have been carried out. Most of the components, including gaseous hydrogen and air compressors, coolant pumps, hydrogen storage system, regulating system and ejectors, have been realised.

Explaining how the whole system works, Gandhi said hydrogen would be fed to the fuel cells which would then produce 80 kw of electric power to drive the bus. “We are planning to drive a bus... a CNG-type bus. Hydrogen in eight bottles at high pressure is stored at the top of the bus.

Gandhi said the cost of running hydrogen-fuel powered bus would be higher than the conventional vehicles run on diesel, since its environmental-friendly and zero-pollution would go a long way in ridding cities of vehicular pollution and enable earning of carbon credits.