Cars to be powered by green nano power: IIT-M

Article from ET Auto

CHENNAI: At a time when India has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 33% to 35% by 2030 and is looking for non-fossil fuel-based sources to generate electricity, Indian Institute of Technology-Madras researchers have come up with what they say is an alternate cost-effective green nanotechnology to power vehicles like hybrid cars and bikes.

It involves use of solar cells (photovoltaic method) that convert solar energy into electricity, a fuel cell device that generates power through a chemical reaction and a lithium ion (li-ion) battery that stores excess electricity produced by the other two. The technology is not new but the nano-particles not only act as a catalyst but enhance efficiency significantly while reducing cost, says professor and head, alternative energy and nanotechnology laboratory, Sundara Ramaprabhu. The technology can also be used in agriculture and other industries.

In Delhi, considered one of the country’s most polluted cities, environmentalists say diesel-operated vehicles contribute 60% of the main air pollutants as most of them don’t adhere to emission norms. While a ban was imposed on registration of new diesel vehicles in Delhi, IIT-M researchers believe their nano-based technology can go a long way in being an effective alternative and also cut down on emissions.

For applications like a four-wheeler, researchers have integrated photo-voltaic (PV) cells, fuel cell and li-ion batteries. While PV cells can be used during the day, the other two can be used at night. “It can definitely be an alternate to fuel vehicles. The engines used in such technology are similar to those in electric vehicles,” said Ramaprabhu.

The photo-voltaic method, for long, has been seen as a source that produces clean sustainable energy. Researchers have now enhanced its efficiency with use of titanium nano-particles.

Fuel cell through an electro-chemical process converts hydrogen and oxygen into water and in the process generates electricity. While it releases hot water, a fuel cell application in transport requires storage of hydrogen and oxygen in cylinders. Here again, researchers have used platinum nanoparticles dispersed in fuel cell device to improve productivity. Tanks that store hydrogen for this process have nanomaterial graphene layers to increase storage level.

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