Union Minister for Ports, Shipping & Waterways unveiled the Government’s plan for building Hydrogen Fuelled Electric Vessels keeping pace with the Global Maritime Green Transitions.


Proposal of the project –

  • The project would be carried out by Cochin Shipyard Limited in collaboration with Indian partners and the ground work in this regard have already begun.
  • The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vessel based on Low Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane Technology (LT-PEM) called Fuel Cell Electric Vessel (FCEV) is expected to cost around Rs. 17.50 crores of which 75% would be funded by the Government of India.
  • This project is expected to augment the efforts of the nation in achieving the Prime Minister’s ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral by 2070 and also in complying with the standards set by International Maritime Organization (IMO) that envisages a reduction in carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40% by 2030 and progressively to 70% by 2050.


About Fuel Cells –

  • A fuel cell is a device that converts chemical potential energy (energy stored in molecular bonds) into electrical energy.
  • A PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) cell uses hydrogen gas (H2) and oxygen gas (O2) as fuel.
  • The products of the reaction in the cell are water, electricity, and heat.
  • This is a big improvement over internal combustion engines, coal burning power plants, and nuclear power plants, all of which produce harmful by-products.


Applications –

Due to the high energetic content of hydrogen and high efficiency of fuel cells (55%), this great technology can be used in many applications like transport (cars, buses, forklifts, etc)  and backup power to produce electricity during a failure of the electricity grid.


Advantages of the technology –

  • By converting chemical potential energy directly into electrical energy, fuel cells avoid the “thermal bottleneck” (a consequence of the 2nd law of thermodynamics) and are thus inherently more efficient than combustion engines, which must first convert chemical potential energy into heat, and then mechanical work.
  • Direct emissions from a fuel cell vehicle are just water and a little heat. This is a huge improvement over the internal combustion engine’s litany of greenhouse gases.
  • Fuel cells have no moving parts. They are thus much more reliable than traditional engines.
  • Hydrogen can be produced in an environmentally friendly manner, while oil extraction and refining is very damaging.
  • Fuel cells operating on hydrogen fuel are an efficient, environmentally-friendly, zero emission, direct current (DC) power source already applied to heavy duty bus, truck, and train applications, and are now under development for marine applications.