Guwahati (Assam) : Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati have said that they are in the process of identifying key action areas and research priorities that will contribute towards green growth and sustainable development.
The rapid depletion of fossil fuels, anthropogenic emissions and ever-increasing energy consumption have triggered an increasing interest in the future energy system based on renewable resources the world over, they said.
Aligning with the priorities of the G20 Summit to be hosted by India this year, IIT Guwahati, according to an official release, is working towards developing an affordable, high-performance and environment-friendly energy storage and production systems that are also sustainable. This will be the institute’s major contribution to building a sustainable future.
Highlighting the need for research on sustainability, Professor Parameswar K. Iyer, Officiating Director, IIT Guwahati said, “The development of inexpensive, high-performance, sustainable, and environmentally friendly energy storage and production systems is of utmost importance in the current scenario where energy demand is ever-increasing.”
In this context, multiple efforts are underway at IIT Guwahati towards achieving sustainable goals of green hydrogen generation and carbon dioxide sequestration.
Development of Perovskite Oxide-based catalysts for generation of green hydrogen
Professor Mohammad Qureshi, Department of Chemistry, IIT Guwahati, and his research team are working on developing Perovskite Oxide-based catalysts to generate green hydrogen by finding a correlation of different structured materials with the electrochemical performances by designing a library of morphological electrocatalysts and utilised for water splitting leading to the generation of hydrogen, stated the release.
Elaborating on the impact of this research, Qureshi said, “We have progressed significantly in the electrolytic water splitting into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). Notably, hydrogen is an energy carrier which can be used for various applications in fuel cells and in stationary and portable power generators without any greenhouse gas emissions.”
Akshai Kumar Alape Seetharam, head, Centre for Nanotechnology and associate professor, Department of Chemistry, IIT Guwahati, and his research team have formulated efficient ‘pincer’ catalytic systems that transform industrial / biomass wastes into hydrogen and speciality chemicals.
Tiny amounts of these ‘pincer’ catalysts repeatedly convert large amounts of biomass-derived products to speciality chemicals and hydrogen. Alcohols and related biomass derivatives, for example, can be transformed into speciality chemicals, fuels and hydrogen, that find extensive use in food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, polymer industries, and in the energy sector.
Elaborating on how this research, Seetharam said, “Though, renewable energy sources, based on wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass have garnered considerable attention as alternatives to fossil fuels, most of these are naturally intermittent and fluctuating. Towards this end, our group has accomplished development of efficient liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) systems based on abundantly available Biomass for efficient hydrogen storage and transport applications”
Development of photocatalysts to convert solar energy to Green Hydrogen
Nageswara Rao Peela, associate professor, IIT Guwahati, along with his research team has developed photocatalysts that can convert solar energy to hydrogen by using an artificial photosynthetic system (by mimicking the nature).
The research team has successfully developed a corrugated optofluidic device for photocatalytic water-splitting to generate hydrogen and oxygen from solar energy at a larger scale.
Professor Parameswar K. Iyer, officiating director, and faculty, Department of Chemistry, IIT Guwahati, and his research team have developed Photo and Electro catalysts for Carbon Dioxide Reduction Reaction (CRR) and hydrogen evolution reaction (HER).
Their ingeniously-tuneable synthetic routes make them easily accessible as compared to other semiconductor platforms. By adapting certain alteration approaches, such as molecular or elemental doping, researchers have dramatically reinforced the photocatalytic activity in the direction of efficient proton or Carbon Dioxide reduction to boost both the photochemical efficiency and selectivity.
Along with this, IIT Guwahati has also established a ChemDist Centre of Excellence for Industrial Nanotech Innovations (CD-CoE) with an aim to develop and commercialise new-generation technologies and products related to ethanol manufacturing from agro-based feedstock apart from the development of efficient protocols for conversion of ammonia into green hydrogen.
National Green Hydrogen Mission
The Union Cabinet this month approved the National Green Hydrogen Mission, which aims to make India a global hub for the production, utilization, and export of such technologies. The initial financial outlay for the mission is pegged at Rs 19,744 crore, which includes research and development activities.
Under this mission, the government aims to raise annual green hydrogen production to 5 million tonnes.
The green hydrogen mission will gradually lead to the decarbonization of industrial, transport, and energy sectors; a reduction in dependence on imported fossil fuels, among others.
India realises a sizable portion of its energy needs through imports, and the green hydrogen mission is seen as an avenue to reduce the dependence on imported fuel.
India’s pledge towards climate goal
At the COP26 summit in Glasgow in late 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed to an ambitious five-part ‘Panchamrit’ pledge, including reaching 500 GW of non-fossil electricity capacity, to generate half of all energy requirements from renewables, to reduce emissions by 1 billion tons by 2030.
India also aims to reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 45 per cent. Finally, India commits to net-zero emissions by 2070.
Walking the talk, India has gone ahead and banned the use of several single-use plastics starting July 2022.
The adverse impacts of littered single-use plastic items on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including in marine environments are globally recognized.
Addressing pollution due to single-use plastic items has become an important environmental challenge confronting all countries.