Green Hydrogen – A New Fuel of the Future

India is witnessing the multitude of benefits of renewable energy, including increased access to electricity, reduced local air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, and lower energy imports. There are easy ways to boost renewable energy’s position in the grid as well as end-use industries like transportation and industrial. Nonetheless, there remain economic, technological, and feasibility challenges to fully electrifying all existing energy usage, limiting the extent to which renewable power may directly replace fossil fuels. Hydrogen is already widely employed, particularly as an industrial feedstock in the production of ammonia-based fertilizers. Most of the hydrogen is produced through methane reforming, which results in large carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies can collect these emissions, but they are yet undeveloped in India.

Hydrogen produced using electrolysis powered by renewable energy—green hydrogen—and its use in fuel cells has a long history of promising a pathway to a global clean energy economy yet failing to deliver. Electrolysis, where water (H2O) is split into its component parts using electricity, is an alternate means of processing. While there is important research activity on electrolysis, photolysis and biogenic hydrogen production methods, these low-carbon emission technologies have not yet been implemented on a scale. This is partially due to today’s low-carbon hydrogen production costs that are higher than fossil fuel-based hydrogen or other fossil-fuel alternatives. However, it is possible that these costs could achieve equilibrium in the future with green hydrogen in desirable regions undercutting grey hydrogen. This is made more possible in India, where tariffs on renewable energy are already among the lowest in the world and natural gas supplies are low and expensive. The capital cost of electrolysers, along with energy costs, is another significant factor for reducing the cost of green hydrogen. With a ramp-up in implementation, these are likely to continue to decline, since most electrolysers are produced on a relatively small scale today.

Fresh water resources make up around 2.5 percent of the total amount of water on the planet. As shown in figure 1, fortunately, the accessible seawater resource is 39 times that of fresh water. Water use due to electrolysis should, however, not be viewed as gradually using up the water resource, because when green hydrogen is oxidized (by combustion or via a fuel cell) it yields the same amount of water as was originally electrolyzed. This may enter the atmosphere as water vapor or be condensed at the point of use and recovered as liquid water. Moreover, the production of green hydrogen simultaneously produces oxygen in the exact amount required to oxidize the hydrogen, this is an important characteristic, because atmospheric oxygen depletion is contributing to global warming. 

Figure 1: Annual water requirement of Green Hydrogen production relative to                 Earth’s water resources. [Source:]
Figure 1: Annual water requirement of Green Hydrogen production relative to Earth’s water resources.

Green hydrogen provides India with major opportunities to grow into a new field of renewable energy technology, building domestic manufacturing expertise to supply the Indian market as well as overseas. Electrolysers would be the principal technology of significance. There are currently no major Indian producers of this technology, with electrolysers being imported from Germany, Norwegian or Japanese companies currently in use in India.

Globally, the momentum for hydrogen and fuel cell technology is rising, with market forecasts ranging from $2.5 trillion to $11.7 trillion by 2050. India has the capacity to manufacture more than its domestic demand, large quantities of low-cost, low green hydrogen. Significant economic value could be produced by exploiting the country’s diverse range of hydrogen production feedstocks to produce hydrogen for export. To manufacture hydrogen for sale, India has many strategic advantages, as depicted in the figure 2 below:

Figure 2: Strategic Advantages of Green Hydrogen in India; Source: Self-evaluation
Figure 2: Strategic Advantages of Green Hydrogen in India; Source: Self-evaluation

Green hydrogen is therefore widely viewed as the ‘net zero’ fuel for our future energy system, with green oxygen replenishing the associated consumption of atmospheric oxygen. However, it should be noted that some of the hydrogen will be required as a feedstock (e.g., for ammonia and methanol production) rather than as a fuel, and some of the green oxygen will be applied to industrial processes and water oxygenation as opposed to being vented to the atmosphere. For instance, hydrogen and nitrogen will be carried into plants in the form of ammonium, and oxygen will be used by the steel industry. It is therefore important to identify synergies between the electrolysers’ need for water and the use of both green hydrogen and oxygen, because these could accelerate the deployment of electrolysis in the limited period, we have left to combat climate change.

As a result, green hydrogen and its derivatives are projected to play a crucial role in global decarbonization at scale due to their adaptability, which allows them to be used in a variety of applications and decarbonizes hard-to-abate sectors.

Potentiality of Corn Bio-Fuel in Indian Future Mobility

Corn is grown and appropriated not as a food but also put to use to generate ethanol, which can be used as fuel to operate internal combustion engines in order to avoid the usage of exhaustible resources. The price of the liquid fuels has been increasing gradually in India, it causes harmful emissions as well, and the effect can be noticed if we see the air quality index of different states. In order to search for an alternative, we need to shift our view towards bio-diesel which can be used as the substitute of the exhaustible resources and it produces less harmful gases. One of the potential resources for producing bio-diesel in India is corn, which is largely cultivated crop in Northern India. The total number of vehicles have been increased from 5.4 million to 210 million between 2005 and 2015 in India. Due to the uncontrolled mobility in urban areas, the environment has been affected from the exhaust gases so badly in many states. In few major metropolitan cities, the pollution level has crossed the permissible limit of PM2.5, which is set up by WHO. According to the WHO database, 14 out of 15 most polluted cities in the world, belongs to India only, Kanpur tops the list of the most polluted cities in the entire world with 173 micrograms per cubic meter and Delhi secures the sixth position with pollution level of 141 micrograms per cubic meter according to the PM2.5 database in 2016. Total 11% of the carbon emission is accounted from the transportation; it was 24% in 1971. The effective move, which was taken by the Indian government, was switching to CNG and India operates maximum buses on the road, fuelled by CNG. This country owns 11.75% of total natural gas operated vehicles and holds the third place, running behind China (23%) and Iran (17%). By 2030, India is aiming to be the third largest automobile manufacturing country after USA and China and this is the high time to impart innovations to this specific domain, which can cause less PM, CO2, NOx and SOx emission. Biofuels have great future prospects in developing nations due to energy insecurity. Large agricultural sector can be a good support in order to produce biodiesels from crops. Shuit et. Al [3] stated that the fourth assessment report of IPCC concludes that the reason behind global warming for last 50 years, mostly due to emission of harmful CO2, nitrous oxide and methane. Transportation has been identified as the major source of air pollution in megacities since last century. The bad effect of motorization leads more petroleum-based fuels to be used in road transport that directly affects the human health. On the basis of an analysis, which has been done by taking data of 50 countries and 35 urban areas that vehicle per capita has been increased at the same rate as income per capita. Countries like India, China and Pakistan where growth rate of passenger cars are double than that of income per capita. India has secured the place in top 10 among biggest emitters of atmospheric pollutants. Road fuel consumption is nearly doubled in every ten years since 1975. Biofuel can be used to meet the future needs of mobility and it can safeguard the environment and human health as it does not contain any sulphur or metals, which contribute to the acid rain by producing sulphuric acid. Peng et al. investigated different parameters and the limited data projected that exhaust emission in terms of total vapour phase hydrocarbons, total carbonyl compounds, total poly aromatic hydrocarbons etc. were lower when biodiesel was used. Global energy demand will be increased by 4.6%, almost 70% of it will be utilized in global emerging markets and developing economics. Global CO2 emission is heading towards the second largest annual increase ever in 2021, coal demand is set exceed the demand of 2019 and approaching towards the 2014 peak. Utilization of natural gas is being increased by 3.1% in 202. Renewable sources retain the success in these days in power, industry, transport and heating sectors. A report named Net Zero by 2050: A road map for the global energy sector stated that 7 Gt of CO2 has been emitted from global transport sector in 2019 and it is expected that it will be around 5.5 Gt by 2030 if we use the other environment friendly fuel and 0.7 Gt by 2050.  As per the report published by Indian government on World Bio-Fuel Day named Bio-Fuels towards Atmanirbhar Bharat  it is concluded that biodiesels can enhance India’s energy security and reduce petroleum dependency. Few potential resources have been identified in order to get bio fuel from the crops and government is implementing policies to spread the awareness among citizens. India aiming to produce 20% ethanol blended biofuel by 2030 and 3% contributor to global ethanol production. Therefore, many initiatives have been taken to produce bio-fuel at higher rate in India using different techniques and waste management strategies.

Apart from USA and Brazil, many countries have been producing bio-ethanol to meet the continuously increasing need. In India, per year 426 crore litres bio-ethanol is being produced from molasses-based distilleries and 258 crore from grain-based distilleries. It has been proposed to increase 760 crore and 740 crore respectively. Indian government has given emphasize on producing bio-ethanol from grains in last few years.

The world’s corn production capacity is near about 1.05 million thousand tons, whereas the USA tops the list of producing corn which is estimated at 360,252 thousand tons. In 2020, India has produced 30,250 thousand tons of corn. It was 5101 thousand tons in 1971 and it is growing at the rate of 4.67%. According to ICAR, India secures 4th in area and 7th in production among the maize producing countries. Corn production area has been increased to 9.2 million ha during 2018-2019. Average productivity has increased by 5.42 times from 547 kg/ha to 2965 kg/ha, productivity in India is almost half of the world.

Madhya Pradesh (15%) and Karnataka (15%) clench the first position in terms of highest cornfield area accompanied by Maharashtra (10%), Rajasthan (9%) and Uttar Pradesh (5%). Whereas Andhra Pradesh secures the top position in terms of corn production, it is as high as 12 tonne per ha. Looking at the statistics of corn production and the potentiality for bio-ethanol to be used as fuel, it is said that corn can be one of the major grain resources in India to produce ethanol. Chemical composition of corn revels that it contains 72% starch, 9.5% fiber,9.5% protein and 4.3% oil. It is investigated that 56 lbs of corn can produce 30.7 lbs of starch or 35 lbs of sweeteners or 21 lbs of polylactic acid polymers and can produce 2.87 gallons of ethanol. This ethanol can be used with diesel to improve the emission and it also fulfils the need of the alternative fuel in the automobile sector in India.

Ethanol production from corn: Farm to Fermentation

Corn has to undergo many processes to be considered ready for ethanol production. The first step is to remove the kernels from the cob, this process is known as postharvest where all the stones, soil, sticks, etc. are removed by means of scalpers. A huge bio-technical is associated followed by three steps –

  • Starch is to be converted to fermentable sugar by means of milling, liquefaction, and saccharification (enzyme-based).
  • Fermentation, where yeast helps these sugars to convert into ethanol.
  • Generated ethanol is taken out from other by-products using the distillation process.

Fig. 2: Schematic diagram of ethanol production from corn [icon courtesy:]

Milling is the first step of the biotechnical process and it can be classified into two main categories namely wet milling and dry milling. The main purpose of the process is to break-down the starch into simple sugar components whereas the liquefaction process is done in order to make the simple sugar soft for an efficient enzymatic digestion. Indian government has paid attention to establish such plants to produce ethanol to be used with diesel to meet the demand. And, obviously corn can be the one of the resources for the same.

Better Emission

This is the need of the hour to replace authentic fuel in automobiles as it emits harmful components like CO, CO2, NO2 etc. Bio-fuel helps engine to perform and emit less pollutant. Many additives can be used to improve the performance in terms of power generation and speed.  Manigadan S. et al. [12] investigated the emission characteristics of corn oil blended with methyl ester and oxygenated additives. In this study, BSFC and BP have been increased by 6.3% and 22.01% respectively. And, 16% reduction in NOx emission has been observed, Titanium di-oxide (TiO2) has been used as additive. But, many oxygenated nanoparticles like aluminium oxide etc. can be used to improve the performance, as well.


Choosing a Career as an Environmental Engineer

What to choose? Which subject to take? Shall I get good job opportunities? What would be the earning potential?… Etc.

These are some of the common concerns that we have before embarking on further education, but take a deep breath and consider environmental engineering as a career option. Isn’t it fascinating to learn more about the world in which we work or to solve the problems that our environment faces on a daily basis? Obviously, it’s interesting! Let’s get started on gathering as much information as possible about our environmental studies. Environmental engineering is a branch of engineering and scientific knowledge of strategies to apply to the practical improvement of the environment. Another thing to say about an environmental specialist: it can provide a cover or assurance for our current situation, as well as strengthen the relationship between humans and the natural climate. Natural engineering gave us the ability to interact with both nature and individuals. As a result, create a capable undertaking that can have a long-term result. Difficulties and significant issues are present in each venture, which requires great understudies and a workforce. An environmental engineer is attempting to develop a new device, a natural structure plan, EIA planning, and is also developing a new monetary model, though environmental management improvement is more satisfactory than theories are the use of the premises.

Why is it necessary to conduct further research into environmental engineering?

 It is past time for us to become more rational and calculative as a result of the novel objective for environmental engineering. There are many research, programs, and realistic applications that we cannot overlook. In master’s programs, environmental engineering is a multidisciplinary topic with a lot of theory papers and lab work, project work, and seeing how the hypothesis applies with your own experiences. Other skills, such as technical reading and writing, critical thinking, and board ability, are required in addition to the hypothetical material.

 We can likewise choose between two sorts of Experts degrees:     

  • If there is someone who is more concerned about the natural arrangement builder planner, they may pursue a master’s degree in natural engineering.
  • If anybody is interested in the exploration field, they can go for M. Tech in Environmental Engineering.

Who Are We and What We Do?

In the current period, we can see an increase in demand in the engineering sector across various divisions. If we look at the previous survey results, we can see that environmental engineering is receiving the same attention and opportunities as other fields. Many of us believe that saving the earth is a task for the future, so why bother doing it now? This is not the case; it is having a positive and direct effect on people’s daily lives all over the world.

Now comes the issue of how an environmental engineer can assist in achieving a healthy and sustainable climate, and what positions do they play in this regard.

 Environmental engineering, as we all know, is closely connected to environmental science in that it employs scientific and engineering concepts to protect and enhance the environment. It also includes the design and technology for improving environmental quality. The working areas for environmental engineers are air pollution control, radiation protection, hazardous waste management, industrial hygiene, recycling, toxic material control, wastewater management, solid waste disposal, and public health and land management, protection of wildlife, prevent the production and repercussion of acid rain, global warming, and ozone depletion. Life will be difficult without environmental engineers because we can only live and continue our work if our world is clean and secure. The most fascinating aspect of this subject is that students who want to study environmental engineering will gain a broad understanding of a variety of topics including mathematics, engineering design, biology, microbiology, computer science, ecology, public health, economics, and geology.

Let us move on to the job opportunities after learning about the course specifics. What kind of job will an individual get after completing a B. Tech or M. Tech in environmental engineering?

There are many fields where environmental engineers are been appointed, are:

  • Environmental related projects with national & international firms.
  • Universities or colleges where they can teach, conduct research, and share knowledge on environmental control acts.
  • Industry or company for handling wastewater treatment system, treat and dispose of hazardous waste, etc.
  • Municipal agencies for water supply system.
  • Laboratories
  • Government sectors
  • And plenty of opportunity in fertilizer plants, refineries, food processing industries, etc.

Job Outlook of Environmental Engineering is Great!!!

When we think of studying and pursuing a career in engineering, we usually think of mother streams like civil, mechanical, or electrical engineering, but there is one branch that is becoming increasingly relevant today: environmental engineering. Nothing can be better than to having a career which is meaningful, satisfying, as well as rewarding, and environmental engineering fits perfectly on these criteria. Environmental engineers are extremely satisfied with their careers because they know what they are doing has a major impact on our future; and they are able to fulfill their responsibilities towards our nature and society.

With increasing environmental issues, our young generations are getting aware; as a result, colleges and universities have started offering environmental engineering programmes. The master’s program in this regard will help to better understand the environmental problems and find solutions with the help of technology as well as to raise awareness among the students. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average growth rate for employment of environmental engineers is going to exceed 15% by 2014 to 2024, which is way faster than the average for all other occupations. Why? Because with the modernization and development, our environment is also getting polluted and we are becoming more aware to save the world. As a result, job opportunities for environmental experts will increase. It’ll help us to find a job anywhere in the world, from India to Australia to Europe and beyond, this is truly a global career.

Talking about salaries, environmental engineers get paid pretty well. Although money is not everything, but we live in a world where we need money to survive. Based on a survey of salaries in India, the results show that an experienced environmental engineer receives an average compensation of Rs 10,19,862. So, they can lead a beautiful life.

This was some of the most valuable knowledge about environmental engineering; hopefully, after reading this, the majority of your questions will be answered. Ergo, time to come forward and ‘Be a part of solution not a part of the pollution’.

A gateway to clean and green energy

India’s economic revival post the two-and-a-half-month lockdown period could be channelized into searching for cleaner sources of energy that would benefit both nature and its inhabitants. To start with, the central government should look for ways to utilize abundant solar energy available in most parts of the country. In this case, the focal point should be to energise the nearly 39,000 non-electrified healthcare centres as well as numerous primary and secondary schools in the Indian countryside.

As of now, the Indian government hands out heavy subsidies to the fossil fuels sector. Instead of this, in an effort to kick-start the much needed clean energy revolution, the government may transfer the subsidies to the renewable energy sector, thereby enabling it to take small strides that could lead to giant leaps in the coming decades. United Nations climate body chief Patricia Espinosa said on April 22, “With this restart, a window of hope and opportunity opens, an opportunity for nations to green their recovery packages and shape the 21st-century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, safe and more resilient”. In fact, India’s own energy research centres, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), echoed similar views. A research fellow at CEEW, Karthik Ganesan, said, “There is a phenomenal opportunity for India in re-thinking if there is a better way of spending these (coal and oil and gas) subsidies to make them investment-worthy”.


The present realities exhibit that organization enrichments for limitless power have trebled over the last five years to Rs 9,930 crore in 2019 from Rs 3,224 crore in 2014, as it were, driven by India’s assurance of setting up plants that could help generate an estimated 175 Giga Watt (GW) by 2022, according to the CEED report. In comparison, India spent more than Rs 80,000 crore towards subsidies for the coal, oil and gas industry. It is, therefore, apparent that, at present, India is spending an enormous amount of money towards non-renewable energy sources, which needs to change soon. In fact, the subsidies for the non-renewable sources exceed by seven times when compared to the renewable sources. Unless this is reversed, it will be extremely difficult to promote clean energy in India.

As of now, 56% of India’s electricity needs are generated from coal, 36% from oil and gas while about 3% is obtained from cleaner sources. However, India has made rapid strides in terms of utilizing renewable sources of energy – Renewables now amount to around 20% of India’s total installed power capacity, up from just 13% in 2014.

A good time to promote the use of renewable energy is now, after the resumption of industrial activities, post removal of lockdown, in an effort to meet any shortfall through renewable energy. Decisions and strategies made now will define the future since the benefits from these decisions will be visible only after 1-2 decades from now. Therefore, judicious use of fossil fuels on one hand and aggressive promotion of renewables are a good way forward. 

Volatility of fossil fuels

Industries that are mostly run from power generated by coal and other fossil fuels had a period of nearly 10-15 years that were quite stressful. Case in point is the underperformance of the Indian coal-mining and coal-fired companies. In December 2018, Greenpeace reported an average loss of 10% per year from 2013, costing a total of Rs 25,000 crore in losses.

One among several research set-ups that study the usage and financial benefits of renewable energy source, Matt Gray from Carbon Tracker estimated the economic feasibility of countries that have invested their energy dependence on coal and also in order to recover from the effects of the lockdown imposed by COVID-19. In fact, he specifically cautions India against using coal to spur its industries back after the lockdown and cites a reason for it to support his claim. In India, 2% of the current 222 GW coal fleet is running at a loss; an additional 66 GW is in the pipeline anyway 23% of this will enter the market with a negative cash flow, the Carbon Tracker report said. Matt Gray’s report also adds, “51 per cent of operating coal power costs more to run than building new renewables”.

Setting up the renewable energy network

In order to effectively distribute the benefits of renewable energy, small units of solar power supply units may be supplied to small and medium scale industries as well as small residences in towns and cities. On the other hand, in remote rural areas of the country, electricity generated from solar cells could be used to power small rural schools, hospitals, etc. Although relatively higher initial capital costs tend to deter people from using solar or other renewable energy, funding for these may be allotted from government agencies as well as from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds in order to popularize such schemes. In fact, massive funding schemes, called KUSUM (meant to promote solar pumps), have been launched in order to promote the use of solar power in far-reaching areas of the country.

Some caveats must also be mentioned which deal with strengthening the existing electricity grid so that the grids are able to absorb the introduction of electricity supply from renewable energy sources. Moreover, it may take at least a few years before tangible benefits from renewable energy are financially visible. In addition, adequate training needs to be provided to workers who would be at the forefront of this massive changeover from conventional energy sources to unconventional sources. Ultimately, these actions could help steer India towards a path of recovery, make the air cleaner and, make sure that the inhabitants may experience clean, breathable air in the recent future.

Worldwide coal use in power generation must fall 80% below the 2010 levels by 2030 in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, as per an examination conducted by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The hitherto unexpected benefits obtained from a prolonged near-global lockdown will go to a complete waste unless coal and fossil fuel usage is limited and more and more renewable energy sources are promoted at an aggressive rate. It would only be possible if more countries realise the benefits as well as the urgency of the situation in tackling the disastrous effects of global warming and, therefore, take necessary steps that can mitigate damages done to the environment from unabated use of fossil fuels.