Karnataka scientists develop technology to produce green hydrogen from biomass

A team led by Prof S Dasappa innovated a technology to extract green Hydrogen from biomass, a renewable energy source.

BySumit Jha

Published Jul 12, 2022 | 5:58 PMUpdatedJul 25, 2022 | 3:10 PM

The oxy-steam gasification system at IISc (Supplied)

A team of researchers led by S Dasappa, a professor at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru, Karnataka, has developed an innovative technology to produce green hydrogen from biomass, a renewable source.

Dasappa, also the chair of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research at IISc, said that India uses nearly 50 lakh tonnes of hydrogen in different sectors.

He said that the hydrogen market is expected to grow substantially in the coming years.

“But most of the hydrogen we currently use comes from fossil fuels through a process called Steam Methane Reforming Route,” he said.

Two-step technology

Dasappa’s technology consists of two steps. The first is where the biomass is converted into “syngas” — a hydrogen-rich fuel gas mixture — in a novel reactor using oxygen and steam.

The second is where pure hydrogen is generated from the syngas using an indigenously developed low-pressure gas separation unit.

A hundred grams of hydrogen is produced from one kilogram of biomass using this technology, even though only 60 grams of hydrogen is present in a kilo biomass.

“This is because, in this process, steam, which also contains hydrogen, participates in both homogeneous and heterogeneous reactions (in homogeneous reactions, reactants are in a single phase whereas in heterogeneous reactions, the reactants are in two or more phases),” the IISc stated.

Environment-friendly process

The IISc also added that the process is environmentally friendly and carbon negative.

The two carbon-based by-products are solid carbon, which serves as a carbon sink, and carbon dioxide, which can be used in other value-added products.

Dasappa believes that the green hydrogen could also be used in several other industries – in the steel industry to decarbonise steel, in agriculture to manufacture green fertilisers, and in many sectors currently using hydrogen from fossil fuels.

“Moreover, the same platform can be used for methanol and ethanol production,” he added.