To cut down on diesel consumption and save significant costs, the Indian Railways invited bids to develop 'hydrogen fuel cell-based technology'.
It plans to replace the Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) with a greener alternative —hydrogen-run trains under the Centre's "Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Batteries" and "National Hydrogen Mission" to live up to its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 2030.
In a press release, the Ministry of Railways said it was trying to kick off hydrogen mobility in the country. The statement further informed that the Indian Railways Organization of Alternate Fuel (IROAF), Green Fuel vertical of the department, had invited the bids for trains to run on hydrogen fuel cell-based train on its network. The date of the tender opening is set at October 5, 2020. The project will start in the 89 km Sonipat-Jind section of the Northern Railway.
"We'll remove the diesel generator and install a hydrogen fuel cell. Input will change to hydrogen fuel from diesel. It'll be the cleanest form of fuel. If hydrogen is generated from solar it'll be called green power," said SK Saxena, CEO of Railway Energy Management Company Limited, according to NDTV.
The project will start with the conversion of two DEMU rakes. After this, two locos will be converted to run on hydrogen fuel cell power. In addition to the environmental benefits the project entails, it offers economic interests as well. Annually, the Indian Railways will save ₹2.3 Crore courtesy of using hydrogen fuel to power its trains.
Advantages of Hydrogen Fuel Over Fossil Fuels
The switch to hydrogen fuel is a much-welcomed move. Hydrogen fuel-based trains would offer several benefits over traditional diesel engines. During combustion, hydrogen only releases water vapour. No greenhouse gases or other pollutants are emitted by hydrogen-fueled vehicles.
Hydrogen fuel offers higher efficiency leading to low wastage of energy. More energy can be extracted from hydrogen fuel, compared to the biggest polluter of our atmosphere-fossil fuel.