Current Affairs Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination
Topic: Hydrogen Enriched Compressed Natural Gas (HCNG)
Why in News?
- Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has allowed use of H-CNG (18% mix of hydrogen) in CNG engines.
- Nearly 16 years after Delhi’s entire bus fleet started to run on CNG to reduce air pollution, authorities are now pitching for an even cleaner alternative, hydrogen-CNG (H-CNG). As a pilot project, 50 CNG buses of the existing 5,521 fleet of state-run buses and will be retrofitted with HCNG instead.
HCNG in India
- The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has also developed specifications (IS 17314:2019) of Hydrogen enriched Compressed Natural Gas (H-CNG) for automotive purposes, as a fuel.
- MoRTH says the notification for amendments to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989, for inclusion of H-CNG as an automotive fuel has been published by the Ministry. The draft rules in this respect were made available to the public in July, which received no objections and while suggestions were received from the public in this respect.
- Researchers claim HCNG has the ability to reduce carbon monoxide (CO), methane, and hydrocarbon (THC) emissions compared to regular CNG being used whether as automotive fuel or in other applications.
- As minor tweaks will be needed to accommodate the fuel in CNG pipelines, the Indian government will run a pilot project soon as well while modifying a small amount of the existing infrastructure initially to understand its viability before rolling it out.
CNG & H-CNG
- CNG is compressed natural gas. With natural gas mainly composed of methane, CNG emits less air pollutants — carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter — than petrol or diesel.
- H-CNG is a blend of hydrogen and CNG, the ideal hydrogen concentration being 18%. Compared to conventional CNG.
- Use of H-CNG can reduce emission of carbon monoxide up to 70%, besides enabling up to 5% savings in fuel, tests by the Automotive Research Association of India and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) have found.
- H-CNG has not yet gained worldwide currency.
- Trials have been held in countries such as the US, Canada, Brazil and South Korea.
- Performance of these buses will be analysed every week by IOCL (Indian Oil Corporation Limited) and the International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT)
- Preliminary assessment by IOCL has revealed that the cost escalation for shifting to HCNG buses will be about 72 paise per kilometre, which it hopes would break-even once the technology is used on a large scale.
- IOCL’s research & development wing has developed a technology that does away with the need for physical blending. Its ‘Compact Reforming Process’ directly produces a hydrogenCNG mixture from natural gas, using a single step. The cost of production is significantly lower than physical blending, the EPCA report says.
Limiting the Tests
- Delhi’s public transport includes autos, which too run on CNG, but researchers believe that these are not yet ready for a switch.
- Cars and autos would not be able to use H-CNG with the prevailing technology, mainly because hydrogen is “highly volatile” and the possibility of a rise in combustion temperature.
- In its report to the Supreme Court, the EPCA (Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority) has estimated that to fuel Delhi’s 5,500 buses, about 400 tonnes H-CNG would be needed per day. Setting up four fuel-dispensing facilities would cost Rs 330 crore, which can be funded from the Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) fund made up of cess on commercial vehicles entering Delhi, it said. For consumers who pay Rs 42 per kg for CNG, the cost of H-CNG would not be more than Rs 43 per kg