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India’s First Indigenous Hydrogen Fuel Cell Ferry Boat

Why is it in the news?

  • Prime Minister flagged off India’s first indigenous hydrogen fuel cell inland waterway vessel in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu.

 More about the news

  • The vessel was constructed at the Cochin Shipyard, showcasing India’s capability in indigenous shipbuilding.
  • It is a 24-meter catamaran with a capacity to carry 50 passengers, and is designed to operate on hydrogen fuel cell technology, making it environmentally friendly with zero emissions.
  • The hydrogen fuel cell-powered ferry is a part of the Harit Nauka initiative, which aims to promote the adoption of green vessels and transition towards sustainable maritime practices.
Harit Nauka- Inland Vessels Green Transition Guidelines 

·       The Harit Nauka Guidelines demonstrate the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways’ (MoPSW) dedication to revolutionizing the maritime sector by promoting the adoption of green vessels.

·       These guidelines focus on operationalizing a green ecosystem within the maritime industry.

·       One of the primary objectives is to incorporate low or zero-emission sources of fuel to reduce environmental impact.

·       A long-term goal outlined by the guidelines is to achieve 100% green vessels operating in Indian waters by the year 2047.



  • The vessel’s introduction will contribute to making urban mobility smoother and more convenient, particularly in areas with waterway access.
  • By leveraging hydrogen fuel cell technology, the vessel underscores India’s commitment to adopting innovative clean energy solutions in the transportation sector.
  • The deployment of this green vessel aligns with India’s goals towards achieving net-zero emissions, emphasizing the nation’s dedication to sustainable development and environmental stewardship.
Working Principle of the Green Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vessel 

·       The green hydrogen vessel operates by harnessing the chemical energy of hydrogen and converting it into electricity through a reaction with oxygen.

·       It utilizes Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology, which is specifically designed for transportation applications.

·       Within the vessel’s fuel cell, hydrogen fuel is directed through PEM cell stacks, which facilitates the electrochemical reaction where hydrogen combines with oxygen to produce electricity.

·       As a result of this process, the vessel emits only water and warm air thereby ensuring zero emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases, and making it an environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell

·       PEM fuel cells, also known as proton exchange membrane fuel cells, utilize a proton-conducting polymer membrane as the electrolyte that facilitate the movement of protons (hydrogen ions) while blocking the passage of electrons, allowing the fuel cell to generate electricity.

·       Hydrogen is the typical fuel used in PEM fuel cells, where it undergoes oxidation at the anode, releasing electrons and protons. These protons migrate through the membrane to the cathode, where they combine with oxygen from the air to form water, releasing energy in the process.

·       PEM fuel cells operate at relatively low temperatures compared to other fuel cell types, typically between 60°C to 80°C. This characteristic enables quick start-up times and the ability to vary output rapidly, making PEM fuel cells suitable for applications with fluctuating power demands such as transportation.

Green Hydrogen

·       Green hydrogen is produced through the electrolysis of water, involving the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity.

·       The primary objective of green hydrogen is to limit global warming to 1.5°C, serving as a cleaner alternative to traditional energy sources and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

·       Traditionally, green hydrogen is produced from methane (CH4) through a process called steam methane reforming (SMR), where methane is split into carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2).


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