News Excerpt
Scientists at International Advanced Research for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad, has developed Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cells (PEMFC).

Pre-Connect
•    ARCI, established in the year 1997, is an Autonomous Research and Development Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.
•    A fuel cell is a device that uses hydrogen (or hydrogen-rich fuel) and oxygen to create electricity. Fuel cells are more energy-efficient than combustion engines and the hydrogen used to power them can come from a variety of sources. If pure hydrogen is used as a fuel, fuel cells emit only heat and water, eliminating concerns about air pollutants or greenhouse gases.  
•    One of the common types of fuel cell is the Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cell. The PEM fuel cell consists of an electrolyte membrane sandwiched between an anode (negative electrode) and a cathode (positive electrode).
•    The PEM is a thin, solid, organic compound, typically the consistency of plastic wrap and about as thick as 2 to 7 sheets of paper.

Analytica
    PEMFC applications include electric utilities, portable power, and transportation. Its main advantages are that the solid electrolyte reduces corrosion, operates at low temperatures, and delivers quick start-up. Its disadvantages are that the cell requires expensive catalysts and the cell has high sensitivity to fuel impurities.
    PEMFC, in its entireness, have an application in decentralised power generation systems.  Through intense R&D efforts in the area of fuel cell technologies, ARCI at its Centre for Fuel Cell Technology, Chennai has developed in-house PEMFC systems in the power range of 1 to 20 kiloWatt (kW) and demonstrated the same in stationary (1-20 kW) and transport applications (1,3,5 kW).  
    Emergency Operation Centres (EOC) backed with 10 kW system along with fuel cell stack (providing sustainable electricity using hydrogen gas without the need of grid power), air moving sub systems, power control devices and control and monitoring system is being planned as a natural disaster management measure.
    Tamil Nadu is generally affected by five to six cyclones every year, of which two to three are severe. There has been a paradigm shift in the focus of Disaster Management, from response-centric (rescue, relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction) to laying greater emphasis on the other elements of disaster management cycle (prevention, mitigation, and preparedness) as a means to avert the impact of future emergencies.
    Hence, the State Government decided to look at the prospect of converting the existing Control Room to EOC backed with 10 kW system along with fuel cell stack, air moving sub systems, power control devices and control and monitoring system. Fuel cell systems offer a potential benefit in terms of providing sustainable electricity using hydrogen gas without the need of grid power as required by conventional battery backup systems.
    ARCI is also planning to set up a PEMFC system up to 10 kW capacity at Tamil Nadu State Emergency Operation Centre (TN SEOC) to operate the systems like early warning systems, VHF set, IP phone, BSNL Ethernet and office equipment like scanner, computers, printers, phone, FAX and normal requirements like lighting and fan.

Conclusion
Fuel cell systems are excellent options for small-scale decentralized power generation. Fuel cells can thus supply combined heat and power to buildings, hospitals, airports and military installations at remote locations. Fuel cell systems are modular (i.e. additional capacity can be added whenever required with relative ease) and can be set up wherever power is required. Thus, the ARCI has been at the forefront of PEMFC development in the country. During the last few years, the Centre has developed process know-how for the various components used in the fuel cell stacks, demonstrated fuel cells in electric vehicle for use as range extenders and recently power control devices and control and monitoring system is being planned as a natural disaster management measure.

PEPPER IT WITH
National Hydrogen Energy Board, Alkaline Fuel Cell (AFC), Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell (PAFC), Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell (MCFC), Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC)


Fuel cell Technology and Environment
    Fuel cells are efficient and clean energy producer. Fuel cells have been used in space flights and being introduced in electric vehicles for reducing urban air pollution.
    Compared to vehicles powered by the internal combustion engine, fuel cell powered vehicles have very high-energy conversion efficiency, (almost double that of currently used engines) and near-zero pollution.
    Fuel-cell-powered EV’s (electric vehicles) score over battery operated EV’s in terms of increased efficiency and easier and faster refuelling.