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Explained: What is HCNG and what are its benefits?

21st October, 2020 Environment

Context: Buses running on hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (HCNG), a cleaner fuel compared with CNG, are going to hit the capital’s roads.

What is HCNG?

  • HCNG is a hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (CNG).
  • In Delhi, instead of physically blending hydrogen with CNG, hygrogen spiked CNG will be produced using compact reforming process patented by Indian Oil Corporation.
  • Hydrogen enriched-Compressed Natural Gas or HCNG, is predicted to be the first step to a hydrogen economy, and can be used in place of gasoline, diesel fuel/LPG and its combustion produces fewer undesirable gases in comparison to a normal automobile fuel.

What are its benefits?

  • It is cleaner and more economical. Power output of HCNG is also better than CNG ones.
  • HCNG means four per cent more fuel economy than CNG.
  • It reduces the emission of carbon dioxide by 70% and increases the fuel efficiency by upto 3% resulting in overall fuel savings of around 5%. Switch to HCNG fuel requires minimum modifications to the existing buses.
  • "It requires only a small hydrogen storage and a column for the mixing of hydrogen with natural gas at existing CNG stations. Safety components are similar to the CNG.
  • HCNG is easier and safer to use than hydrogen as it contains very low energy content from hydrogen i.e., up to 30% by volume.
  • HCNG reduces the engine's unburned hydrocarbon emissions and speeds up the process of combustion.
  • The engine's fuel efficiency is improved by blending the CNG from hydrogen which lowers the fuel consumption of the vehicle.
  • The thermal efficiency and fuel economy is also increased by HCNG.

Why and how HCNG came into picture?

  • The Supreme Court had last year suggested looking at hydrogen-run vehicles as a solution for Delhi NCR’s poor air quality and believed that the HCNG could be a step in that direction.
  • An SC directive in July 2018 had led to Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) collaborating to put up this first semi-commercial plant.