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PM Modi launched India’s First Hydrogen-Powered Ferry

Utkarsh Classes Last Updated 01-03-2024
PM Modi launched India’s First Hydrogen-Powered Ferry Uttar Pradesh 6 min read

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has launched the country's first hydrogen fuel cell ferry, which has been developed indigenously. Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) manufactured the vessel and will be used for service at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

  • The ferry will be handed over to the Inland Waterways Authority of India by the CSL after trials. The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has provided 75% of the project cost.

Special features of the vessel

  • The Hydrogen fuel cell vessel is a 24-meter-long catamaran (a watercraft) that can transport up to 50 people in its air-conditioned passenger area. 
  • The accommodation area is constructed with high-quality fiberglass reinforced plastic, similar to that of metro train coaches.
  • Unlike conventional battery-powered vessels, hydrogen fuel cell vessels use hydrogen fuel that is stored in cylinders as their primary source of energy. 
  • The boat is equipped with five hydrogen cylinders that can carry up to 40 kg of hydrogen and can support eight hours of operations. Additionally, the vessel is fitted with a 3-kW solar panel.
  • This type of ferry is highly eco-friendly, as it has zero emissions and produces zero noise. 
  • It is also energy-efficient, making it a more sustainable way to travel. Furthermore, since there are no moving parts, the hydrogen fuel cell-powered ferry requires less maintenance than combustion vessels.

Working of Hydrogen fuel cells 

  • A hydrogen fuel cell generates electricity by utilizing the chemical energy stored in hydrogen. Unlike traditional combustion engines, fuel cells don't produce any harmful pollutants, only pure water. 
  • Hydrogen fuel cells operate by converting the energy within the hydrogen into electricity and heat, which can then be used to power the vessel's propulsion mechanism. 
  • The fuel cell works by reacting the hydrogen with oxygen in the air to produce electricity. Unlike batteries, hydrogen fuel cells don't need to be recharged, and will continue to operate as long as they have a steady supply of fuel and oxygen.

Type of cells used in the vessel

  • This watercraft is equipped with a 50-kW PEM (proton-exchange membrane) fuel cell, along with Lithium-Ion Phosphate batteries. 
  • The main benefit of this system is that the fuel cells can easily adjust their output based on the power requirement. 
  • PEM fuel cells are commonly used in cars because they work at a lower temperature, and they are lighter and more compact.

Development of hydrogen fuel cell

  • India has successfully developed hydrogen fuel cells and their related systems indigenously. The vessel has been constructed by CSL. 
  • The hydrogen fuel cell system was developed in collaboration with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Labs by KPIT Technologies, Pune, under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • While hydrogen fuel cell technology has been under development for maritime applications, only a few countries worldwide have carried out demonstration projects. This ferry provides India to tap the potential of hydrogen as an emerging green fuel in the marine sector. 
  • The 'Harit Nauka' (green boat) initiative by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways aims to transition inland vessels to green technology. 
  • The ferry can be replicated in other regions of the country for urban mobility, in line with this initiative. It also provides a boost to the National Green Hydrogen Mission.

Harit Nauka initiative

  • In January 2024, the shipping ministry introduced the Harit Nauka guidelines for inland vessels. 
  • These guidelines state that all states must aim to use green fuels for 50% of inland waterways-based passenger fleets within the next ten years, and 100% by 2045. This will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as per the Maritime Amrit Kaal Vision 2047.
  • The shipping industry worldwide is increasingly transitioning to green fuels due to environmental regulations, sustainability goals, and advancements in green fuel technologies. Hydrogen and its derivatives are gaining attention for their potential as zero-emission fuels for the industry.


Answer: Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

Answer: Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL)

Answer: January 2024

Answer: Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways
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