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Ministry of Coal constitutes Committee to prepare road map for coal based hydrogen

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    10th Sep, 2021


Ministry of Coal recently constituted a task force and expert committee to prepare road map for coal based hydrogen production and usage.

About the new committees

Task Force

  • The Task Force will be headed by Additional Secretary in the Ministry.
  • Broad terms of reference: monitoring of activities towards achieving coal-based hydrogen production and usage and coordination with Coal Gasification Mission and NITI Aayog.

Expert Committee

  • The Expert Committee will be headed by Director General of the Federation of Indian Petroleum Industry, R.K. Malhotra.
  • Terms and reference: identifying experts in India and co-opting as members, desk based review of progress in hydrogen technology and also review ongoing research projects in Hydrogen technology.

Why the focus is on coal?

  • In his Independence speech, Prime Minister had announced a National Hydrogen Mission.
  • Coal is an important source of hydrogen making (brown hydrogen) apart from natural gas (grey hydrogen) and renewable energy (green hydrogen) through
    • In case of renewable energy (green hydrogen) surplus solar power is used to electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Hydrogen produced from coal can be cheaper and less sensitive to imports when compared with hydrogen production through electrolysis and Natural Gas respectively.

Production of hydrogen from coal

  • To produce hydrogen from coal, the process begins with partial oxidation, which means some air is added to the coal, which generates carbon dioxide gas through traditional combustion.
  • Not enough is added, though, to completely burn the coal – only enough to make some heat for the gasification reaction.
  • The partial oxidation also makes its own gasification agent, carbon dioxide.
  • Carbon dioxide reacts with the rest of the carbon in the coal to form carbon monoxide (this is the endothermic gasification reaction, which needs heat input). No hydrogen yet.
  • Carbon monoxide in the gas stream is now further reacted with steam, generating hydrogen and carbon dioxide. 

The current method of hydrogen production

  • Coal has not been encouraged elsewhere because of the fear that while extracting hydrogen via coal (from the moisture embedded in coal) there may be carbon emission.
  • Almost 100% of Hydrogen produced in India is through Natural Gas.