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fuel cell - Shanmugam IAS academy in coimbatore
fuel cell


What’s in news?

ARCI developed fuel cell technology to power disaster management systems.

Key data’s:

  • Scientists at International Advanced Research for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad, an autonomous R&D Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), have developed Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) systems in the power range of 1 to 20 kW and demonstrated the same in stationary (1-20 kW) and transport applications (1, 3, 5 kW).
  • PEMFCs, also known as proton-exchange membrane fuel cells, have the advantage of operating at low temperatures and find applications in decentralised power generation systems.
  • Fuel cell systems provide sustainable electricity using hydrogen gas without the need of grid power as required by conventional battery backup systems, making them highly useful for applications like Emergency Operation Centres (EOCs) which need to respond immediately during an emergency situation with state-of-the-art communication systems.
  • ARCI has already demonstrated feasibility of powering EOC systems with 5 kW PEMFC stack installed on mobile truck. It is now planning to set up a PEMFC system up to 10 kW capacity at Tamil Nadu State Emergency Operation Centre to operate systems like early warning systems (Tamil Nadu is generally affected by five to six cyclones every year, of which two to three are severe), VHF set, IP phone, BSNL Ethernet and office equipment like scanner, computers, printers, phone, FAX and normal requirements like lighting and fan.


  • Last year, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in partnership with Pune-based Thermax Limited and Mumbai-based Reliance Industries Limited, developed India’s first indigenous high-temperature fuel cell system that has the potential to replace polluting diesel generating (DG) sets and reduce the country’s dependence on crude oil.
  • The 5.0 KW fuel cell system—based on high-temperature proton-exchange membrane technology—generates power using methanol/bio-methane, with heat and water as by products for further use. This amounts to greater than 70% efficiency, which otherwise may not be possible with other energy sources.

Disaster management systems:

  • Natural disasters are consequences of calamities like earthquake, landslide, cyclone, flood, tsunami, and so on that affects human activities.
  • 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.
  • The Government of Tamil Nadu places equal importance on both the approaches and is keen to develop a robust disaster management system.
  • The latest concept in disaster management all over the World is about conversion of Control Rooms to Emergency Operation Centres (EOC).
  • EOCs respond immediately during an emergency situation with State-of-the-Art communication systems. This helps in providing immediate support during the Golden Hour of the disaster.
  • 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.
  • Recently, ARCI demonstrated feasibility of providing power to EOCs. PEMFC stack with capacity of 5kW has been installed on mobile truck and demonstrated on December 5, 2019 at Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority (TNSDMA).

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