Isro & Tata Motors Develop India’s First Fuel Cell Bus
For the first time in the country, a hydrogen-powered automobile bus has been developed by Tata Motors Limited (TML) and Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) after several years of research. The hydrogen fuel-fitted bus was demonstrated at Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, an Isro facility in Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu on Sunday.
It’s a CNG-type bus that runs on hydrogen fuel, creating zero pollution. Hydrogen in bottles at high pressure is stored at the top of the bus The hydrogen cells were a spin-off of the cryogenic technology that Isro had been developing for the last few years, the Bangalore-headquartered Isro officials said.
“That’s not exactly the cryogenic technology…(It’s) liquid hydrogen handling and that’s where Isro has some expertise,” they said.
Isro has a very rich technology in producing, storing and handling gaseous and liquid hydrogen in the last three decades. Its expertise is also in safety. An Isro team had generated technical specifications for all the elements and general specifications for the bus.
According to honorary adviser of Isro V Gnana Gandhi, who led the technical team in this project, Isro and TML entered into an MoU in 2006 to design and develop an automobile bus using hydrogen as a fuel through fuel cell route. Gandhi, a Padmashree awardee and retired scientist from Isro, and Dr M Raja, DGM of TML made the announcement the two organisations have developed fuel cell bus for the first time in India, which will run on hydrogen.
“This is a leap for automobile industry for future transportation. In this vehicle there will be zero pollution since the product of cold combustion is water. This is a result of great team work of Tata Motors and Isro specialists with contributions from DSIR (department of scientific and industrial research) and PESO (Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation),” Gandhi informed in Bengaluru.
The team ensured all safety measures for handling hydrogen in the bus. As hydrogen is emerging as leading contender for the ideal energy options of the future, the Union government has set a guideline for automotive companies to develop hydrogen fueled vehicle for deployment by 2015, according to Gandhi.
Tata Motors Research Centre (TMRC) premises were used for the design and development of fuel cellpower system in cooperation with Isro and DSIR. TML had set-up a fuel cell power system test lab with all safety measures recommended by safety committee of Isro at Bengaluru and later on at LPSC Mahendragiri.
And these facilities were used to test the all the key components on test bench prior to integration on actual vehicle as well as for validation purpose. TML had now successfully completed design and development of Fuel Cell Power System (FCPS) for bus application starting from 20Kw to 120Kw with co-operation of Isro.
Earlier, several trials have been completed and generated high quality power up to 120Kw without any untoward incident. Periodic technical and progress monitoring committee formed of TML and Isro team guided the project continuously. Based upon the recommendation, the test results had been furnished to PESO, which gave clearance for filling and storing onboard hydrogen in compressed form.
The project has now been completed with the running the bus at LPSC, Mahendragiri with integrated FCPS and on-board Hydrogen Storage and Delivery System (HSDS).
“This R&D work is the first endeavour in India which will put the nation in the club of hydrogen fuel celldriven bus which will eliminate pollution totally and also the dependency on importing the fossil fuel. It is envisaged replacing most of the city buses in the Tier A cities by using available Hydrogen from the fertilizers plant and refineries as a byproduct,” Gandhi said.
The demonstration of the vehicle was made in the presence of Dr AS Puri, Dr S Ravishankar and Dr AK Jindal (vice presidents of Tata Motors), Dr V Govindarajan (GM of Tata Motors), Dr S Ramakrishnan (director, Vikram Sarabhi Space Centre of Isro) and D Kartikesan (associate director of LPSC).