Indian Institute of Technology Madras Researchers are collaborating with German Researchers to develop new materials for Green Energy Solutions. The project aims to develop alternative technologies to produce Green Hydrogen as the world is expected to eventually transit to a hydrogen-based economy.
Depletion of conventional fossil fuels and natural gases combined with increasing demand for alternative sources of energy necessitates prioritizing research on producing and storing non-polluting energy forms or ‘Green Energy.’ In this context, the hydrogen-based economy is a promising area to invest scientific interest in the humanitarian quest to reduce carbon footprint.
This research project was taken up under the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration or ‘SPARC,’ an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India.
A team of researchers led by Prof. N.V. Ravi Kumar, Laboratory for High Performance Ceramics, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Madras, is collaborating with Prof. Sanjay Mathur, Chair of Inorganic and Materials Chemistry, Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Cologne, Germany and other researchers.
Prof. Sanjay Mathur is also one of the Adjunct Faculty Members of the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Madras. A budget of Rs. 66 lakh has been allocated for this SPARC project.
Speaking about the importance of generating hydrogen using environment-friendly measures, Prof. N.V. Ravi Kumar, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Madras, said, “Conventional methods of generating hydrogen (H2) such as ‘water gas conversion’ and ‘partial oxidation of hydrocarbons’ generate a large quantity of carbon dioxide (CO2), a notorious greenhouse gas that imposes serious environmental concerns. In contrast, electrochemical splitting of water termed as ‘Water Electrolysis’ (WE) is a clean, facile, and highly efficient technology for large-scale production of high-purity H2. Through this international collaboration we aim to develop novel low cost electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution reactions.”
Prof. Ravi Kumar added, “This highly interdisciplinary team is working together not only to address the scientific issues but also to broaden the understanding of advanced electrocatalysts with the potential to transform lab-scale research to deployable reactors/devices.”
A team consisting of materials chemists, ceramicists, experts in characterization including correlative spectroscopy coupled with computational materials scientists are working to address scientific issues at various length scales understanding fundamental scientific issues and transform lab-scale research to deployable reactors/devices.
Highlighting the major outcomes of this Project and their impact globally, Prof. Sanjay Mathur, Chair of Inorganic and Materials Chemistry, Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Cologne, Germany, said, “Hydrogen-based energy transition is a central pillar in the decarbonisation of energy technologies. Current hydrogen production technologies need new materials and hydrogen-production pathways involving earth-abundant resources such as water, solar energy, and light absorbing pigments. Our aim in this SPARC project is to develop a holistic approach for identifying next-generation photo-electrocatalysts by considering inputs from first principle calculations and through phase diagram calculations which is a unique and unexplored approach in the field of photo-electrocatalysis.”
The first phase of this project kicked off successfully with a visit to University of Cologne by IIT Madras Researchers Dr. Ganesh Babu T., Postdoctoral Fellow, and Mr. M.V.S.S Raghunath Sharma, PhD Scholar, for three months between September and November 2019. The first phase culminated with the visit of Prof. Sanjay Mathur, University of Cologne, Germany, to IIT Madras from 24th February 2020 to 8th March 2020.
During the visit of Prof. Sanjay Mathur to IIT Madras, an international workshop to enhance the visibility of SPARC and outreach of the collaboration was considered along with discussions on analytical data and interpretation of experimental findings based on the work done by Indian researchers at the University of Cologne.