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Hydrogen vehicles: US energy dept, M&M in JV

December 25, 2003 16:46 IST

The US Department of Energy will introduce three-wheeled, hydrogen-powered experimental vehicles in India through a joint project as a possible alternative to small vehicles commonly used in densely populated cities.

In a public-private partnership supported by the US Agency for International Development and DOE, US companies specialising in the conversion of engines to hydrogen power will modify three-wheeled vehicles provided by the Indian auto manufacturer Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, said a DOE press release.

One vehicle will be returned to India for experimental use. Another will remain in the United States for demonstrations, said the release.

The project has the potential to encourage wider-scale conversions to hydrogen power with resulting positive impacts on reducing pollution and achieving greater energy sustainability.

The ambitious project supported by USAID (US Agency for International Development) to introduce three-wheel hydrogen-powered vehicles into India could have important consequences on air pollution and transportation in developing countries and the United States, the release said.

"Hydrogen engine technology can have a dramatic impact in the developing world by improving air quality and energy security, and promoting sustainable economic growth," Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said.

"The positive impacts are far-reaching both in the United States and abroad."

"This project could ultimately hasten introduction of hydrogen-fueled transportation into the United States by building upon lessons learned in wide-scale deployment of small vehicles in India," Abraham said.

Energy Conversion Devices Inc, on behalf of Texaco Ovonic Hydrogen Systems LLC, is undertaking conversion in the United States in a 50-50 joint venture with the unit of ChevronTexaco Corp.

ECD will carry out the project in cooperation with M&M, said the release.

In the project, M&M selects two vehicles for conversion and ships them to ECD. ECD has extensive experience in solid-state hydrogen storage systems and has done cutting-edge work in converting gasoline-powered vehicles to hydrogen.

One converted vehicle will be returned to India, where three-wheelers powered by smaller two- and four-stroke engines are a common form of transportation in densely populated, low-income areas, and are a major source of air pollution in developing nations.

The project supports research, development and demonstration activities under the DOE's hydrogen programme to develop improved metal hydride materials and for hydrogen-based transportation options.

It will also complement a broader strategic initiative by USAID/India working with Indian government agencies and the private sector, with the support of the National Energy Technology Laboratory, to develop a vision and a road-map for India's hydrogen future.
T V Parasuram in Washington
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