CSIR's chemical arm is doing research on generating electricity from polymer electrolyte fuel cell

A major programme on energy is underway at Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and its affiliate National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) here with a focus on search for novel materials and turning them into devices for affordable technologies.

The CSIR-NCL which has identified Solar energy and Fuel Cell as two major “thrust areas” of its research, is working on harnessing solar energy to produce thermal and electric power, in particular “organic photovoltaic and dye-sensitised solar cells”, the important components of the country’s Solar Mission project to add a 500 MW of power availability, according to Saurav Pal, Director, CSIR-NCL.

“In the area of fuel cells, NCL’s thrust is on polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC) which combines hydrogen and air to produce electricity, water and heat, making it an important alternative energy source along with solar and wind,” he said.

Their emerging applications of the fuel cells are in towers, replacement for diesel generations, co-generation in nuclear plants and electrification of rural and urban locations, Dr. Pal noted at a media interaction, explaining CSIR-NCL research activity aimed at taking science out of laboratories in order to enhance the quality of life of the common man.

The research being conducted and to be commissioned soon by NCL will lead to conservation of conventional and fossil fuels and subsequently add to the use of alternative sources of energy, Dr. Pal said.

“The clean energy alternatives being developed by NCL will assist in mitigation of global warming and assist in achievement of the Millennium Development goals”, he added.

The institute has now set up a “Centre of Excellence” for solar energy research inaugurated a few days ago by Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Ashwini Kumar who interacted with CSIR-NCL scientists calling for a boost to sustainable energy research, voicing the government’s commitment to “incentivising” renewable energy use in the country.

The CSIR-NCL is endeavouring to make Indian chemical industry “globally competitive” by designing new and creative process equipment and their integration with process chemistry, the Director stated.

NCL is a flagship laboratory of CSIR which is the largest network of publicly funded research institute in the country.