Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, Anand Mahindra Can Join Forces For India’s 1st Hydrogen Mission: How Will This Work?

Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, Anand Mahindra Can Join Forces For India's 1st Hydrogen Mission: How Will This Work?
Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, Anand Mahindra Can Join Forces For India’s 1st Hydrogen Mission: How Will This Work?

In order to capitalize on the most abundant element on world, During the Budget 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman announced the National Hydrogen Mission.

According to Chaitanya Giri, a fellow of space and ocean studies with the Mumbai-based think tank Gateway House who wrote a paper on the Methane Economy, said that such a move could bring Indian stalwarts such as Reliance, Tatas, Mahindras, and Indian Oil together.

He opined that coalition of companies like Indian Oil, the Tatas, the Mahindras, the Eicher, Reliance is the need of the hour.

Why does India need a hydrogen coalition?

In order to pull this off, it would require the auto sector, fuel companies, speciality chemicals and advanced materials companies to work together and hence in the light of all this, coalition is the answer

India, in order to make hydrogen a feasible solution, does not only needs the fuel but also the automobiles which shall run on them. Since, hydrogen is rather notorious for being explosive, to ensure it remains safe fueling stations and technology is also needed.

Giri, while hailing Germany, said that the country has already demonstrated that a coalition is an excellent way forward and by 2023, aims to  set up 400 hydrogen fueling stations.

In order to make a blueprint of the same, India can seek help of countries like Norway, Sweden or New Zealand. But since these nations are almost one-fourth the size of urban cities in India, these projects must be scaled up for them to be applicable to India. At best, their national-scale ideas can be replicated to Indian cities but can be useful initially as Mumbai has four times the population of Norway.

The international players, Air Products and Linde, who can be instrumental in making hydrogen safe are already in India. These companies will be crucial for dispensing infrastructure like gas fueling stations and take up contracts for setting up gas infrastructure and storage devices alongside the highways.

How will India make Hydrogen?

There are two methods of doing the same :-

  1. Electrolysis of water
  2. Splitting natural gas into hydrogen & carbon

The problem with electrolysis of water is that, water, to start with itself is a scarce resource now.

Splitting natural gas into two parts hydrogen & one part carbon is feasible as this hydrogen can be used  for fuel and the leftover carbon, once solidified, can be used to create specialty materials for sectors like space, aerospace, auto, shipbuilding, electronics and more.
Other method – absorbing Methane directly from the air and then using scrubbers to convert that gas into hydrogen and carbon, is there but not business ready now.

Giri said that in Europe, Saudi Arabia and the US, prototypes of the same are already in the works. Also in order to have substantial amount of fuel, he advocated need to implement them on-ground and commercialize these technologies.

What will happen to lithium batteries and electric cars?

Electric cars are raging. One of the many issues with the same is the lithium battery, which comes with set of challenges.

There are ‘range anxiety’ issues with such batteries. This can be solved by hydrogen cars, as they give twice the range which lithium batteries run EVs do. This would translate into less fueling stations as well as more peace for the drivers.

Also, due to the sheer abundance of Hydrogen, Hydrogen has edge over lithium.

If done right, not only it will prove to be a good alternative for an IC engine, but also help to meet the massive energy needs of India’s exploding population.

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