Indian Railways (IR) is exploring the feasibility of retrofitting the trains (that presently run o­n diesel) with hydrogen fuel and for same it has invited bids for "hydrogen fuel cell-based technology" for retrofitting the existing Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) and will be test it out in 89 km Sonipat-Jind section of Northern Railway.

The bids have been invited by Indian Railways Organization of Alternate Fuel (IROAF), Green Fuel vertical of IR. The bidding date for hydrogen fuel cell-based DEMU rake will start o­n September 21, 2021, and the closing date will be October 5, 2021.

Initially, two DEMU rakes will be converted, and later two-hybrid narrow gauge locomotives will be converted based o­n hydrogen fuel cell power movement. After conversion, the train will run o­n hydrogen fuel, the greenest mode of transport as hydrogen can be generated by electrolysing the water from solar energy. 

The retrofitting of diesel-powered Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) and converting it into hydrogen fuel-powered train set will not o­nly save the cost to the tune of Rs 2.3 crore annually by converting from diesel to hydrogen, but also save the carbon footprint (NO2) of 11.12-kilo tons per annum and particulate matter of 0.72-kilotonnes per annum.

This initiative is part of the National Hydrogen Energy Mission to launch and promote the concept of Hydrogen Mobility in India. Rs.8 crore has been allocated for the project in 2021-22.

Earlier in June, to use hydrogen as an alternative fuel researchers from the IIT Bombay have devised an economical method for extracting hydrogen from water.

Hydrogen fuel cell-based technology is part of  "Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Batteries” and "National Hydrogen Mission" --- the two flagship programs of the Government of India to meet out the targets of reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emission under Paris Climate Agreement 2015 and "Mission Net Zero Carbon Emission Railway" by 2030.

Last month, NTPC too had invited a tender for setting up India’s first Green Hydrogen Fuelling Station in Leh, Ladakh. In February this year, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, announced that NTPC is planning to start a premium hydrogen fuel bus service on Delhi to Jaipur route.


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