Pune researchers develop tech to generate hydrogen from agri residue

A two-stage process eliminates the pretreatment of biomass, thus making the process economical and environment friendly

Image Credit: PIB

Image Credit: PIB

Indian researchers have developed a unique technology for the direct generation of hydrogen from agricultural residue. The innovation by Indian researchers can promote eco-friendly hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles by overcoming the challenge of hydrogen availability. India has set a target of 60 per cent renewable energy of about 450 GW by 2030. 


A team of researchers from Agharkar Research Institute, Pune, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), GOI, in collaboration with Sentient labs of KPIT Technologies, have developed this technology at lab-scale to extract hydrogen from agricultural residues.


“Our technology is 25 per cent more efficient as compared to conventional anaerobic digestion processes used today. The two-stage process eliminates the pretreatment of biomass, thus making the process economical and environment friendly. The process generates a digestate that is rich in nutrients which can be used as an organic fertiliser,” said Dr Prashant Dhakephalkar, Director, ARI.


A team of scientists, Dr SS Dagar and Pranav Kshirsagar from MACS-ARI and Kaustubh Pathak from KPIT-Sentient, contributed significantly towards the development of the process. The developers of the technology explained that the hydrogen fuel generation process comprises the use of a specially developed microbial consortium that facilitates biodegradation of cellulose- and hemicellulose-rich agricultural residues, such as biomass of paddy, wheat, or maize, without thermo-chemical or enzymatic pretreatment. The process generates hydrogen in the first stage and methane in the second. The methane generated in the process can also be used to generate additional hydrogen, they added.


“This breakthrough of generating hydrogen from unutilised agricultural residue will help us to become self-reliant on energy resources. It will also add a major stream of revenue to the farmer community,” said Ravi Pandit, Chairman, Sentient Labs. An Indian patent application has been filed to protect the IPR. 


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