Chemical Energy

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The main objective of the Chemical Sources of Energy Programme is the development and applications of fuel cell technology which produces electricity, water and heat through reaction between hydrogen and oxygen/air. The fuel cell technology offers high conversion efficiency, modularity, compactness and noise-free operations.  Fuel Cells are environmentally benign. Hydrogen is the primary fuel for fuel cells. Other fuels can also be used to produce hydrogen gas with the aid of reformers. Because of modular nature, fuel cells are ideally suited for de-centralized power generation and for automotive application.Prototypes of polymer electrolyte membrane or proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) and phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFCs) have been developed in kW size in India. The applications of these prototypes have been demonstrated for power generation (PEMFC & PAFC) and transport sectors (PEMFC).A fuel cell-battery hybrid vehicles with indigenously developed PEMFC stack of 10kW had undergone field performance evaluation. Efforts made are expected to lead to the indigenous production and wider applications of fuel cell systems in the country.This programme focuses on development and demonstration of fuel cells, which produce electricity, water and heat through reaction between hydrogen and oxygen/air. Hydrogen is the primary fuel for fuel cells. Hydrogen for fuel cells can be produced by reformation of other fuels. It can also be produced from coal and biomass and by electrolysis of water.  Renewable energy sources and nuclear energy can also be used for production of hydrogen.Because of their modular nature, fuel cells are ideally suited for distributed power generation. Small fuel cell power packs can be used for power generation by industrial and residential users. Fuel Cells are emerging as power sources for automobiles. A 10 kW PEMFC has been used in a prototype vehicle developed in India, in addition to a battery bank. Efforts are being made to develop indigenous technology for production of fuel cell systems in the country. The widespread use of fuel cells for power generation, transport and other applications is expected to reduce dependence on scarce fossil fuels and help in preserving the environment.

  1. R&D on fuel cell technology including material/ cells stack/sub-system/system development.
  2. Performance improvements, etc.
  3. Indigenous production and promotion of applications of fuel cell technology for power generation, transport and other applications.


  • Research in materials/processes/ fabrication techniques
  • Development of technology/ infrastructure support
  • Demonstration of fuel cell technology for various applications
  • Performance evaluation of fuel cells
  • Training, awareness creation, etc.

Thrust Areas in Fuel cells:

  1. Development of low temperature, medium temperature and high temperature fuel cells for decentralized power generation, automotive and other applications.
  2. Research in materials, technology development and up-gradation of the performance of fuel cells.
  3. Production of cost competitive fuel cells in India.
  4. Applications of fuel cell technology.
  5. Creation/expansion of infrastructure to support production and applications of fuel cells.

Ongoing Projects in Fuel Cells:

  1. Development of Direct Alcohol Fuel Cell and Test Protocols (IIT Delhi).
  2. Solid Oxide Fuel Cells that operate directly on hydrocarbon feedstock (IIT Delhi).
  3. Development of High performance intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells (IT-SOFC) by low cost ceramic processing techniques (IMMT, Bhubaneshwar).
  4. Design and development of Alkaline fuel cell : Scaling up from bench scale i.e. 185 W to 500W (SICES Degree College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Ambernath (W), Mumbai).
  5. Development of high performance direct Methanol Fuel Cell (University of Calcutta).
  6. Development of PEM For fuel cell by plasma process (Institute of Advanced Study in Science Technology, Guwahati).
  7. Development of Non-fluorinated Polymeric Membrane for Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi).


  1. Indigenous base for research & industrial production being established.
  2. R&D projects are leading to technology/process/material development.
  3. Prototypes of PEMFCs and PAFCs developed.
  4. The application of fuel cells demonstrated for decentralised power generation .
  5. A Fuel Cell (PEMFC)-battery hybrid van has been developed in the country and has undergone field performance evaluation.
  6. 3 kW capacity UPS based on PEMFC developed.
  7. Reformer for a 10 kW PEMFC system developed and tested.

Potential Applications of Fuel Cells:

  • Can be used in CHP mode
  • Industrial applications
  • Surface transportation
  • Residential applications
  • Power supplies for personal computers, hospitals, health clinics, etc.
  • Electrification of remote locations/villages

1 x 3 kW PEMFC stacks

3kW PEMC based UPS

Organisations working in fuel cells:

  • Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, New Delhi
  • Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (IMMT), Bhubaneshwar
  • Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL), Hyderabad
  • Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi
  • Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI), Kolkata
  • Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (Goa Campus)
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi
  • Indian Institure of Technology Kanpur.
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai
  • National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune
  • Naval Material Research Laboratory, Ambernath
  • University of Calcutta, Kolkata
  • SICES Degree College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Ambernath (W), Mumbai
  • Institute of Advanced Study in Science Technology, Guwahati