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Cars to use sunlight & water as fuel: IIT-Jodhpur's 'future fuel' inspired by Photosynthesis

The Financial Express logo The Financial Express 08-11-2018 Ronak Shah

Rising fuel prices, high pollution levels and the need for a cleaner fuel, Indian researchers in Indian Institute of Technology- Jodhpur have come out with a new innovative solution to develop a future fuel that uses sunlight and water to produce energy. Chemistry is a powerful tool for such new innovations and the team from IIT Jodhpur has found a natural way which is opposite of the process of photosynthesis in plants by which oxygen is produced says a report on Times News Network (TNN).

a close up of a car © image

The Department of Chemistry, IIT Jodhpur's new research has found a way to break Oxygen and Hydrogen molecules in water by using a catalyst called Lanthanide. Lanthanide is used in this process to dupe oxygen and in the process, the pure hydrogen is left behind which can be used as a natural fuel and will have no emissions. The process is similar to hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The head of the Chemistry department at IIT-Jodhpur, Rakesh Kumar Sharma, also a leader in this project says that his researchers tried over 700 different types of catalyst combination to obtain the pure hydrogen. The way to acquire pure hydrogen currently is very expensive and involves burning of methane at an industrial level. This process also involves a temperature of over 1000°c to decimate CH4 (Methane) and obtain Hydrogen. Rakesh Sharma said that this process increases global warming as it produces a lot of greenhouse gases.

The challenge here for researchers across the nations to acquire pure hydrogen is to trap oxygen. Rakesh further added that this is the first time his team has been successful in obtaining pure oxygen without any hydrogen at a very less price using Lanthanide. Hydrogen fuel right now is a very expensive proposition and costs almost four times than the petrol prices in India.

Implementation of this process on a larger scale is yet to be tried and the actual cost of production of hydrogen is unknown. The process requires sunlight which will see the cost of the future fuel being at par with current conventional fuel. If successful, this can be a groundbreaking technology and will see India getting many cars being powered by hydrogen fuel cell.

IIT-Jodhpur has applied for a patent on this process which is inspired by nature and is also developing a prototype for this model. Further, the team will also try using clay available in Rajasthan as a catalyst to bring down the cost of hydrogen fuel.

This is indeed some very good innovative and groundbreaking work done by Indian researchers and IIT-Jodhpur. This technology has the potential to bring down India's oil import bill and more importantly bring down the vehicular pollution in India.

Also see: The 10 most exciting bikes of EICMA 2017

(Provided by Stuff India)

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