Researchers Develop Technology to Produce Hydrogen from Agriculture Residue

Highlights :

  • This technology uses agricultural residue rich in cellulose and hemicellulose content.
  • Researchers claim that this technique is 25% more efficient compared to the conventional one.

Researchers from two Pune-based institutes today announced the development of a technique that produces hydrogen directly from agricultural residue. The generated hydrogen can be used in fuel cell-powered vehicles.

Scientists from Sentient Labs, a KPIT Technologies incubated R&D innovation lab, and Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) of Maharashtra Association for the Cultivation of Science (MACS) came together to develop this innovative technology which they claim to be the first of its kind in the world.

This hydrogen generation technology uses agricultural residue rich in cellulose and hemicellulose content – in paddy, wheat, or maize residue. The process uses microbial culture for the direct generation of hydrogen from agricultural residues. It further generates methane, which is utilized for producing additional hydrogen by steam methane reformation. This process can avoid the burning of biomass generated in large measure in the Indian countryside and generate organic manure and CO2, which find applications in various industries.

“Our technology is 25% more efficient as compared to conventional anaerobic digestion processes used today. The innovative two-stage process eliminates the pre-treatment of the biomass, thus making the process economical and environment friendly. This biologically benign process generates digestate rich in nutrients which can be used as organic fertilizer, said Dr. Prashant Dhakephalkar, Director at Agharkar Research Institute.

He further added, “Its by-products can be used as soil conditioners while undigested solids for briquetting can be sold as solid fuel. I thank the scientists and engineers at Agharkar Research Institute &Sentient Labs for this achievement.”

MACS-Agharkar Research Institute is committed to conduct basic as well as applied research in life sciences and harness the genetic diversity of microbes for bio-energy generation and working towards developing solutions that are appropriate for national use.

While Sentient Lab envisions to build technology solutions for e-mobility. It has identified bottlenecks in battery technology, fuel cell technologies, and technologies for hydrogen generation. “The milestone collaboration has the potential to radically transform the agricultural industry and garner new sources of value-creation. It will improve India’s self-reliance in creating cleaner and sustainable solutions for the energy and transportation sectors and will help India comply with the Paris Climate Change agreement, said Mr. Pawan Sharma, President & CEO of Sentient Labs.

A pertinent sustainability aspect of this innovation is that it models the circular economy. In India, approximately 200 million tons of unutilized agricultural residue is generated, which mostly get burnt. That residue can be fed into this process to generate hydrogen.

Speaking of the technology, Chairman of Sentient Labs, Mr. Ravi Pandit stated, “This innovation affirms our commitment to Mission Hydrogen and Make in India charter by the government. This breakthrough of generating hydrogen from unutilized agricultural residue will help us become self-reliant on energy resources.”

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Bhoomika Singh

Bhoomika is a science graduate, with a strong interest in seeing how technology can impact the environment. She loves covering the intersection of technology, environment, and the positive impact it can have on the world accordingly.

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