In a first, Delhi is all set to roll out hydrogen-enriched CNG (HCNG) buses for public transport next year onwards. Interestingly, by doing so, the national capital will become the first city in India to launch HCNG buses. In order to help study the technology as well as its infrastructure requirements, the government of Delhi has tied up with Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), which is a public sector undertaking, to induct 50 HCNG-fuelled buses, an HT report stated. Under this project, the IOCL plans to test the performance of buses as well as the reduction in emissions by mixing 18 to 20 per cent of hydrogen to compressed natural gas (CNG) in every bus.
According to transport commissioner Varsha Joshi, who was quoted in the report, the best thing about HCNG is that it does not need any modification of the engine or retrofitment. Joshi also said that whatever work is needed, it will be done at the depot. In each of the 50 CNG bus, the HCNG will reduce carbon emission by up to 20 per cent, Joshi added.
For the trials, the IOCL is likely to use the Rajghat depot, for which the work is set to begin by the end of this month. According to the Director of Research and Development of IOCL, SSV Kumar, the move will be significant as it will be the second big transformation to a cleaner fuel for the national capital’s state-run buses after the “almost overnight” shift to CNG in the year 2002. Kumar said that until now, IOCL has been conducting trials with two buses in Faridabad. Soon, HCNG trials will be started on 50 CNG buses of the Delhi government. As per IOCL’s assessment, HCNG buses also give 3 to 4 per cent fuel economy improvement as compared to a CNG bus. Kumar further added, while they reduce carbon footprint, there is no reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions.
According to the company’s preliminary assessment, the cost escalation for shifting to HCNG buses will be about 72 paise per kilometre, and it hopes, once the technology is used on a large scale, it would break-even. Kumar also said that in order to convert all of the city’s existing 5,500 CNG bus fleet to this fuel, the Delhi government will need 400 tonnes of HCNG on a regular basis as well as 48 compact steam methane reforming (SMR) units, that produces hydrogen for the HCNG fuel.
Kumar said that IOCL has already finalized the design of the compact SMR unit. The pump at the depot will just have another section of HCNG fuel, other than the CNG, in order to dispense the fuel into the bus. To set up the depot, the company will need six months, following which the trial will begin, Kumar added.