Daily Analysis: 11th October 2020

The Hindu, PIB, IE and Others

Index

A) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

1. Mullaperiyar Dam (TH)

2. What Is the Slow Food Movement? (TH)

3. Migratory Birds of India, Lesser Flamingo Vs Greater Flamingo, Flamingo city, Shravan Kavadia and Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS) (TH)

B) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

4. SOP in crimes against women (TH)

5. World Mental Health Day (TH)

C) Art, Culture and History

6. Maru Mani” (Jewels of Desert) campaign (TH)

D) Science and Technology/Defence/Space

7. High Flow Rate Water Purification Technology for Fluoride and Iron Removal (PIB)

8. Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) prototype car (IE)

9. RudraM-I (TH)

A) Geography, Environment and Biodiversity

1. Mullaperiyar Dam (TH)

Context: The Tamil Nadu government has rebutted allegations made in the Supreme Court that the Supervisory Committee constituted by the top court in 2014 for Mullaperiyar dam “abdicated its duties” to evaluate the safety of the structure and water levels.

Analysis

  • Mullaperiyar is over-a-century-old dam located along the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
  • The major rivers through the reserve are the Mullayar, Periyar, Pamba and Azhutha.
  • The dam, located in Idukki district of Kerala, was built with the intention of diverting the West-flowing Periyar river eastwards to the arid rain shadow region of Madurai (Tamil Nadu). 
  • Kerala and Tamil Nadu are in a constant tussle regarding the strength of the dam and hence the level of water that should be maintained in the dam.
  • Mullaperiyar dam is located on river Periyar.
  • Like many dams in India, the Mullaperiyar is located in one state (Kerala), but operated by another (Tamil Nadu).
  • Mullaperiyar dam is located in Kerala and is owned by Tamil Nadu.

The Periyar River

  • It flows into the Arabian Sea.
  • It is one of the few perennial rivers in the region.
  • Tamiraparani river also has a perennial flow. It flows into the Gulf of Mannar and lies entirely in Tamil Nadu.
  • The Periyar river is the longest but the second largest river of Kerala. Its catchment area is 5,243 sq. km (Source: NCERT, class 11).
  • The longest river of Kerala, Bharathapuzha (west flowing) rises near Annamalai hills. It is also known as Ponnani. It drains an area of 5,397 sq. km.
  • Periyar River originates from Sivagiri hills of Western Ghats and flows through Periyar National Park into Periyar Lake, a 55 km² artificial reservoir created in 1895 by the construction of a dam across the river.
  • Water is diverted from the lake into the Vaigai River in Tamil Nadu via a tunnel through the Western Ghats.
  • The water from Periyar Lake then flows into the Vembanad Lake and then finally to the Arabian Sea.
  • It lies entirely in the territory of State of Kerala.

Dams in India

  • Almost 40 per cent of India’s large dams are in Maharashtra (more than 2000), notwithstanding the fact that hardly any dam has fulfilled even half of its projected irrigation potential.
  • Not surprisingly, Maharashtra has one of the worst irrigation records in the country, with a mere 19 per cent of the net irrigated area — just ahead of Jharkhand, Manipur and Sikkim.
  • But this is not the only case. Madhya Pradesh has 899 big dams, followed by Gujarat (620), Chhattisgarh (248), Karnataka (230) and Rajasthan (209).
  • However, among these States, except Madhya Pradesh, which has a net irrigated area of 62 per cent, no other State has achieved even 50 per cent net irrigation.
  • In contrast, the States that have achieved more than 50 per cent net irrigation have fewer dams.
  • Punjab, which has a 100 per cent net irrigated area, has 14 dams.
  • Uttar Pradesh has achieved 87 per cent net irrigation with 115 dams.
  • With one large dam, Haryana has achieved 84 per cent irrigation.
  • West Bengal and Bihar have achieved 59 per cent and 57 per cent net irrigation, respectively, despite having just 29 and 24 respectively.

2. What Is the Slow Food Movement? (TH)

  • The slow food movement is a global initiative focused on encouraging people to stop eating fast food, instead taking the time to prepare and eat whole, locally-sourced foods.
  • The focus is not only on nutrition, but also on preserving culture and heritage as it relates to food.
  • The Slow Food movement was founded by Carlo Petrini in Paris.

Objectives and Policies

  • The original goal of the movement was preserving local food cultures and emphasizing the joys of eating, based on the idea that fast food was making it difficult for people to savor what they ate.
  • The movement’s goals have expanded to include broader environmental, labor, and health concerns.
  • Supporting local farmers and agricultural workers and promoting animal welfare are also fundamental Slow Food objectives.
  • The Slow Food Movement rejects factory farming but does not reject the consumption of meat altogether.
  • Instead, they recommend that people limit their consumption of meat and buy meat from smaller farms that meet high animal welfare standards.
  • The Slow Food movement opposes the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and supports GMO labeling.
  • When it comes to certified organic food, it takes a mixed stance and states that farms can meet the standards of Slow Food with and without organic certification.

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2020

  • The most important international Slow Food event dedicated to good, clean and fair food for all took place in Turin, Italy in October 2020.

3. Migratory Birds of India, Lesser Flamingo Vs Greater Flamingo, Flamingo city, Shravan Kavadia and Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS) (TH)

  • Context: On World Migratory Bird Day (10th October), experts from Mumbai came together to discuss ways to protect lesser flamingos.
  • A webinar titled, ‘The Flight of the Pink – How can Mumbai protect the lesser flamingoes’ was organised as a part of the ‘Biodiversity by the Bay’ campaign, initiated by Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic — a citizen’s collective comprising Mumbaikars who wish to bring the issue of protecting biodiversity to the forefront.
  • The ongoing construction of the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link — a 22km sea bridge — cuts across mangroves and mudflats to Navi Mumbai. This means no large flocking of flamingos at Sewri bay, which lies between Thane Creek and the Arabian Sea.
  • While the Flamingos of Sewri might be renowned all over Bombay, they’re actually Lesser Flamingos, found in India and migrate within the country itself.

Flamingos

There are six species of flamingo, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS): 

  1. Greater flamingo (IUCN: Least Concern);
  2. Lesser flamingo (IUCN: Near Threatened); 
  3. Chilean flamingo (IUCN: Near Threatened);
  4. Andean flamingo (IUCN: Vulnerable);
  5. James’ (or puna) flamingo (IUCN: Near Threatened);
  6. American (or Caribbean) flamingo (IUCN: Least Concern).
  • The amount of pink coloration, noticeable particularly on the head and neck, varies greatly amongst individuals, not in relation to age but possibly according to diet and an individual’s capacity to assimilate carotenes for pigmentation.
  • Of the six species of flamingos in the world, two occur in both Africa and India: the Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) and the Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus).
  • These species overlap in distribution and habitats, occurring mainly in large alkaline or saline lakes, salt pans, and estuaries.
  • Both species are very gregarious and frequently occur in large numbers.
  • The two species mingle freely where they occur, usually at feeding and breeding sites.
  • The Lesser Flamingo is the smallest in size and more numerous in number than the Greater Flamingo one.
  • About 60% of the Greater Flamingo (the tallest among the six species) population is located in the Mediterranean region. They occur in lower numbers in Africa.
  • This species has a very large range, the population trend appears to be increasing, and the population size is very large and hence does not approach the thresholds for vulnerable. So the species is evaluated as of least concern.
  • However, the Lesser Flamingos are classified by IUCN as being near threatened, due to its dependence on a limited number of unprotected breeding sites, declining population, and quality of habitat.
  • It is known to breed in only five sites, two in southern Africa (Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana and Etosha Pan in Namibia), one in east Africa (Lake Natron), and two in India (Zinzuwadia and Purabcheria Salt Pans), and on an artificial island at Kamfers Dam in South Africa.
  • Of these breeding sites, only Etosha Pan and the two sites in India are officially protected.
  • More than 75% of breeding individuals are concentrated at only one site (Lake Natron, Tanzania).
  • Lesser flamingos have a highly specialized and fine filter diet consisting almost entirely of microscopic cyanobacteria and benthic diatoms.
  • However, the Greater Flamingos that occur in the same habitat as the lesser ones (but with lesser density) are generalists consuming copepods, mollusks, annelid worms, small fish, seeds, brine shrimps, and other small planktonic and benthic animals in addition to algae.
  • Flamingos are known for their unique style of ‘filter feeding’.
  • Their beak is designed such that it can filter out mud and silt from the mouthful of food it grabs hold of.
  • They feed with their beak upside down.

Flamingo city

  • Flamingo city, like the Rann, was sculpted by a natural force — an earthquake.
  • A massive earthquake in 1819 created what is known as the Allah Bund in the north of the Great Rann, a ridge that rises up to six metres in some places and stretches for more than 80 km from west to east, blocking the flow of northern rivers and buckling, like a table cloth, the Rann’s western terrain, causing the inundation, by a mix of salt and fresh water, of almost the whole region during the cold months that follow the monsoon.
  • The bunding helped create a vast seasonal lagoon which turns into a salt desert that shimmers white once the water evaporates.
  • In the middle of this are several islands known as bets, and one particularly isolated island called Sindal Bet (also called Anda Bet by Border Security Force personnel due to its tilted egg-shape).
  • It’s here that hordes of Greater and Lesser Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus and Phoenicopterus minor), fly in from central Asia after each monsoon to build their nests, breeding in shifts through the winter and dispersing, as summer approaches, turn up after the monsoons.
  • On this small island, which is about 250 m long and 35-40 m wide, and which stands just about six feet taller than the surrounding Rann, flamingos build their plateau-like nests, lay an egg in each of them and feed themselves and their young on the various organisms found in the fertile lagoon waters, making the tiny island India’s largest and, until 15 years ago, the only breeding ground for the country’s two flamingo species.
  • Winters are a great draw, because the birds can be easily spotted in the Rann before they migrate to the eastern part of the country as summer approaches, to lakes in Chilika and Bharatpur.
  • These birds, when they don’t breed, fly cross-country to wetlands such as Point Calimere in southern Tamil Nadu, Pulicat Lake in Andhra Pradesh and Chilika Lake in Orissa.

Shravan Kavadia

  • The Gujarat State Biodiversity Board (GSBB) has identified Shravan Kavadia in the Great Rann of Kutch, the only known inland mangrove cluster in the world, as a potential biodiversity heritage site.
  • The GSBB had earlier identified the mangrove-laden riverine estuaries of Jalalpur in Navsari district as the first and, as yet, only biodiversity heritage site in Gujarat. It is awaiting notification.
  • The declaration of a biodiversity heritage site entails scientific research of the site and the implementation of a management plan to conserve it with the help of locals, among others.
  • The mangrove cluster covering less than a hectare at Shravan Kavadiya lies inside the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary and is considered unique, along with the Flamingo City that lies to its north.
  • It is the only such site in the world, away and cut off from the sea.
  • Amazingly, the Avicennia mangroves stand high in a cluster, resembling in height banyan trees and are dependent for their survival on the underground supply of saline water, which in turn is dependent on the annual influx from the (Arabian) sea.
  • Environmentalists were investigating whether a proposed road through the Great Rann would be environmentally feasible.
  • The mangrove cluster has also been recognised as one of several “sacred groves” in India, revered by locals as places of religious importance.

Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS)

  • Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS) are well defined areas that are unique, ecologically fragile ecosystems – terrestrial, coastal and inland waters and, marine having rich biodiversity comprising of any one or more of the following components:
  1. Richness of wild as well as domesticated species or intra-specific categories;
  2. High endemism;
  3. Presence of rare and threatened species, keystone species, species of evolutionary significance, wild ancestors of domestic/cultivated species or their varieties;
  4. Past pre-eminence of biological components represented by fossil beds; and
  5. Having significant cultural, ethical or aesthetic values and are important for the maintenance of cultural diversity, with or without a long history of human association with them (source: National Biodiversity Authority).
  • Accordingly, areas having any of the following characteristics may qualify for inclusion as BHS.

a. Areas that contain a mosaic of natural, semi-natural, and man-made habitats, which together contain a significant diversity of life forms.

b. Areas that contain significant domesticated biodiversity component and /or representative agro-ecosystems with ongoing agricultural practices that sustain this diversity.

c. Areas that are significant from a biodiversity point of view as also are important cultural spaces such as sacred groves/trees and sites, or other large community conserved areas.

d. Areas including very small ones that offer refuge or corridors for threatened and endemic fauna and flora, such as community conserved areas or urban greens and wetlands.

e. All kinds of legal land uses whether government, community or private land could be considered under the above categories.

f. As far as possible those sites may be considered which are not covered under Protected Area network under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 as amended.

g. Areas that provide habitats, aquatic or terrestrial, for seasonal migrant species for feeding and breeding.

h. Areas that are maintained as preservation plots by the research wing of Forest department.

i. Medicinal Plant Conservation Areas.

  • Under Biological Diversity Act, 2002, the State Government in consultation with local bodies may notify in the official gazette, areas of biodiversity importance as Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS).
  • Generally, no restriction is likely to be placed on the community on the existing utilization of resources from the proposed BHS.
  • India has at present18 Biodiversity Heritage Sites (BHS).
  • Nallur Tamarind Grove (first BHS in India) in Devanahalli, Bengaluru, Karnataka
  • It is popularly believed to be a relic of the Chola Dynasty that ruled nearly 800 years ago
  • Hogrekan in Chikmagalur, Karnataka
  • The area has unique Shola vegetation and grass land with number of floral species which are unique and having lot of medicinal value.
  • Hogrekan also serves as “Wildlife Corridor” between Kudremukha and Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK Campus in Bengaluru, Karnataka
  • Ambaraguda in Shimoga, Karnataka
  • It has Shola vegetation which is primitive vegetation in the Western Ghat and also has grasslands.
  • Glory of Allapalli in Gadhchiroli, Maharashtra
  • Tonglu Biodiversity Heritage Site under the Darjeeling Forest Division, West Bengal
  • Dhotrey Biodiversity Heritage Site under the Darjeeling Forest Division, West Bengal
  • Dailong Village in Tamenglong, Manipur
  • Ameenpur Lake in Sangareddy, Telangana
  • Majuli Island in Assam
  • It is an island situated in the Brahmaputra River which is harboring unique Ecological and Cultural Heritage.
  • Gharial Rehabilitation Centre in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
  • It is a centre established for conservation and rehabilitation of critically endangered species of Gharial.
  • Chilkigarh Kanak Durga Sacred Grove in Jhargram, West Bengal
  • Khlaw Kur Syiem KmieIng, Meghalaya
  • It is a mosaic of natural habitats along with significant diversity of life forms.
  • It is also an old Sacred Grove with monoliths and religious spots.
  • Mandasaru, in Kandhamal district, Odisha
  • Mandasaru gorge is an adobe of hundreds of species of plants, animals and fungi.
  • Purvatali Rai Sacred Grove, Goa
  • Naro Hills, in Satna district, Madhya Pradesh
  • Unique and varied geology and it supports a large number of ecosystem and species of Flora and Fauna.
  • Patlakot, Chhindwara district, Madhya Pradesh
  • It represents a terrain of 1700 feet deep valley and ecosystem of estimated age of 6 Million years and species of rare flora and fauna including rare Bryophytes and Pteridopytes;
  • Asramam, Kolllam district, Kerala
  • It hosts a unique diversity of Mangrove species with diverse flora and fauna.
  • Most importantly, the site has the rare and endangered heritage trees of Syzygium travancoricum which is listed as critically endangered in IUCN Red List.

B) Schemes/Policies/Initiatives/Social Issues

4. SOP in crimes against women (TH)

Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an advisory to all States regarding “mandatory action by the police in crimes against women”.

  • Recently, the role of the Uttar Pradesh police had come under scanner after the Hathras gang-rape when a 19-year-old woman had given a statement from the hospital bed that she was sexually assaulted by four men from her village.

Analysis

Supreme Court ruling

  • The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, provides that the statement, written or verbal, by a person who is dead shall be treated as relevant fact in the investigation.
  • The Supreme Court in the case of Purshottam Chopra & Anr. v. State (Govt. of NCT Delhi) directed that a particular statement, when being offered as dying declaration, cannot be discarded merely because it has not been recorded by a Magistrate or that the police officer did not obtain attestation by any person present at the time of making of the statement.
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure provides for completion of investigation in rape cases within two months.
  • In order to facilitate the State police to monitor compliance, in this regard MHA has provided an online portal called Investigation Tracking System for Sexual Offences for monitoring the same.
  • This is available exclusively to law enforcement officers.
  • The law also enables the police to register FIR or a ‘Zero FIR’ (in case the crime is committed outside the jurisdiction of police station) in a cognizable offence, which includes cases of sexual assault on women.

Officials accountable

  • It added that the Indian Penal Code provides for punishment to a public servant for failure to record FIR in relation to cognisable offences, including cases of sexual assault.
  • The Cr.P.C. provides that in rape/sexual assault investigation, the victim shall be examined by a registered medical practitioner under consent within 24 hours from the time of receiving the information relating to the commission of such offence.
  • In order to facilitate the State Police, Bureau of Police Research and Development has issued Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kits to every State/UT. It is necessary to use these SAEC kits in every case of sexual assault reported.

Zero FIR

  • Generally, cognisable offence means a police officer has the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and to start an investigation with or without the permission of a court.
  • When a complaint is filed for a cognizable offence, a First Information Report (FIR) is registered by police station having territorial jurisdiction to investigate into that offence. This is a regular FIR with a regular FIR number.
  • However, if the complaint of such cognisable offence is given to some other police station (which may be nearby to the person giving such report) then it may register the FIR with a zero FIR number, and hence called a zero FIR, and then forward this FIR to the concerned police station having proper jurisdiction.
  • Such police station will then reregister such FIR with a regular FIR number.

5. World Mental Health Day (TH)

Context: World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year.

Analysis

  • The theme for World Mental Health Day 2020 will be: Mental Health for All – Greater Investment – Greater Access
  • Mental health is a human right.
  • Mental disorders include: depression, bipolar disorder (It typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood), schizophrenia and other psychoses, dementia, and developmental disorders including autism.
  • According to the newly-revised version of the International Classification of Diseases (known as ICD-11), published by the WHO, “gender identity disorders” have been reframed as “gender incongruence.”
  • Gender nonconformity is now included in a chapter on sexual health, rather than being listed with “mental disorders” as was the case previously.

C) Art, Culture and History

6. Maru Mani” (Jewels of Desert) campaign (TH)

Context: In an attempt to extend benefits of the government’s schemes during the COVID-19 pandemic, a database of artists practising in different spheres of crafts and techniques in Rajasthan is being created with the help of crowdsourcing.

Analysis

  • The initiative follows a social media campaign undertaken by civil society groups and research institutions for helping out the Langa-Manganiyar folk artistes of western Rajasthan.
  • The “Maru Mani” (Jewels of Desert) campaign was launched in June this year for getting and distributing monetary support to preserve the rich heritage of traditional music and dance forms of the Thar desert.
  • The “Maru Mani” campaign involved holding of virtual events on safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage and diverse cultural traditions from Jodhpur district’s Moklawas village, where a Thar desert museum has been established.
  • Jodhpur-based Rupayan Sansthan, which established the Moklawas museum, has also opened a folk music school for training young underprivileged boys from the Langa community, whose popular art form faces the challenge of survival because of their global performances having been halted in the pandemic.
  • Langas and Manganiyars are hereditary professional Muslim musicians residing mostly in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer and Barmer districts, and Sindh province’s Tharparkar and Sanghar districts on the other side of the international border. 

D) Science and Technology/Defence/Space

7. High Flow Rate Water Purification Technology for Fluoride and Iron Removal (PIB)

Context: CSIR-CMERI developed Fluoride and Iron removal system which uses cost effective easily available materials for purification

Analysis

Need for this technology

  • The contamination of fluoride and iron in drinking water is increasing day by day.
  • Iron is the most abundant trace element in human body, responsible for accomplishment of vital biological functions such as gastrointestinal processes and the regulation of body temperature.
  • But when iron level in water is beyond 0.3 ppm (as per WHO guideline), it shows several adverse effects including liver disease, irregular heart rhythm and neuronal disorder etc.
  • Similarly, restricted dose of fluoride (less than 1.5 ppm, as per WHO guideline) in drinking water is required for proper strengthening of teeth and bones in human body.
  • But intake of excess fluoride can affect human health profusely by causing dental and skeletal fluorosis initially, which leads to a crippling malady in the long run.
  • About 60-70 million people of India have been indicated to be at excess (fluoride) F threat.
  • According to the report by Ministry of Jal Shakti, the groundwater in more than ten thousand five hundred rural habitations distributed in various states of India are found to be contaminated with elevated fluoride concentration.
  • Therefore, there is a need of affordable water purification technology for fluoride and iron removal.

8. Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) prototype car (IE)

Context: Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and KPIT successfully ran trials of India’s first Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) prototype car running on an indigenously developed fuel cell stack at CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune.

  • The fuel cell is a low temperature PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) type Fuel Cell that operates at 65-75 degree centigrade, which is suitable for vehicular applications.

Analysis

Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell

  • The proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell consists of a cathode, an anode and an electrolyte membrane.
  • Hydrogen is oxidized at the anode and the oxygen is reduced at the cathode.
  • Protons are transported from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte membrane and the electrons are carried over an external circuit load.
  • On the cathode, oxygen reacts with protons and electrons producing heat and forming water as a by-product.
  • Depending on the operating temperature, we can distinguish two different types of PEMFCs.
  • The first type, Low-Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell, operates in a range of 60–80 °C.
  • The second type operates in a range of 110–180 °C, therefore, it is called High-Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell.
  • The standard electrolyte material used in Low-Temperature PEM fuel cells is a fully fluorinated Teflon-based material produced by DuPont for space applications in the 1960s, which is generally called Nafion.
  •  The electrical efficiency for Low-Temperature PEM fuel cells is about 40–60%, while for High-Temperature PEM fuel cells it is about 50–60%.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

  • Hydrogen is the simplest element. An atom of hydrogen consists of only one proton and one electron.
  • Despite its simplicity and abundance, hydrogen doesn’t occur naturally as a gas on the Earth – it’s always combined with other elements.
  • Water, for example, is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O).
  • Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe.
  • The sun and other stars are composed largely of hydrogen.
  • Astronomers estimate that 90% of the atoms in the universe are hydrogen atoms.
  • Hydrogen is a component of more compounds than any other element.
  • Water is the most abundant compound of hydrogen found on earth.
  • Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of domestic resources, such as natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable power like solar and wind.

Today, hydrogen fuel can be produced through several methods. 

  • Hydrogen can be separated from hydrocarbons through the application of heat – a process known as reforming.
  • Currently, most hydrogen is made this way from natural gas.
  • An electrical current can also be used to separate water into its components of oxygen and hydrogen. This process is known as electrolysis.
  • Recently, scientists have discovered that nanocatalysts composed of nickel and iron increases the efficiency of water electrolysis.
  • Some algae and bacteria, using sunlight as their energy source, even give off hydrogen under certain conditions.
  • Hydrogen is high in energy, yet an engine that burns pure hydrogen produces almost no pollution.
  • NASA has used liquid hydrogen since the 1970s to propel the space shuttle and other rockets into orbit.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells are often compared to batteries.
  • Both convert the energy produced by a chemical reaction into usable electric power.
  • However, the fuel cell will produce electricity as long as fuel (hydrogen) is supplied, never losing its charge.

How does a hydrogen engine work?

  • Hydrogen fuel cell cars are powered by an electric motor and are therefore classified as e-cars.
  • The common abbreviation is FCEV, short for “Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle,” in contrast to a BEV or “Battery Electric Vehicle.”
  • There is one crucial difference between hydrogen fuel cell cars and other electric vehicles – hydrogen cars produce the electricity themselves.
  • So, unlike in fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, the vehicle doesn’t get its power from a built-in battery that can be charged from an external power.
  • Instead, hydrogen cars effectively have their own efficient power plant on board: the fuel cell.
  • In the fuel cell of an FCEV, hydrogen and oxygen generate electrical energy. This energy is directed into the electric motor and/or the battery, as needed.
  • In fuel cell technology, a process known as reverse electrolysis takes place, in which hydrogen reacts with oxygen in the fuel cell.
  • The hydrogen comes from one or more tanks built into the FCEV, while the oxygen comes from the ambient air.
  • The only results of this reaction are electrical energy, heat and water, which is emitted through the exhaust as water vapor. So, hydrogen-powered cars are locally emission-free – more about that in a minute.
  • The electricity generated in the fuel cell of a hydrogen engine can take two routes, depending on the demands of the specific driving situation.
  • It either flows to the electric motor and powers the FCEV directly or it charges a battery, which stores the energy until it’s needed for the engine.
  • This battery, known as a Peak Power Battery, is significantly smaller and therefore lighter than the battery of a fully electric car, as it’s being constantly recharged by the fuel cell.

Whether blends of hydrogen and CNG can be used as an automotive fuel in India?

  • Hydrogen up to 20% (by volume) can be blended with compressed natural gas (CNG) for use as an automotive fuel. 

Advantages of Hydrogen fuel cells

  • It is readily available.
  • It doesn’t produce harmful emissions.  Basically, it reacts with oxygen without burning and the energy it releases can be used to generate electricity used to drive an electric motor.
  • Also, it doesn’t generate carbon dioxide when burnt, not unlike other power sources.
  • It is environmentally friendly. Hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed in a fuel cell, produces only water.
  • It can be used as fuel in rockets. Hydrogen is three times as powerful as gasoline and other fossil fuels. This means that it can accomplish more with less.
  • It is fuel efficient.  Hydrogen-powered fuel cells have two or three times the efficiency of traditional combustion technologies.
  • It is renewable.

Disadvantages of Hydrogen fuel cells

  • It is expensive. A good reason for this is that it takes a lot of time to separate the element from others.
  • It is difficult to store. Hydrogen is a colourless and odourless gas and on combustion produces a colourless flame.
  • Therefore, special devices are necessary to detect the gas leakage to ensure safety in public places.
  • It is highly flammable. 
  • One of the challenges of using hydrogen as a fuel comes from being able to efficiently extract it from the other compounds.

9. RudraM-I (TH)

Context: A New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGARM), RudraM-I, was successfully flight-tested by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Analysis

  • Anti-Radiation Missiles are primarily designed to track and neutralise the radar and communication assets of the adversary.
  • This is the first indigenous anti-radiation missile of the country.
  • An anti-radiation missile can locate and target any radiation emitting source like enemy radars, communication sites and other Radio Frequency (RF) emitting targets.
  • They can play a key role in neutralising any jamming platforms of the enemy or take out radar stations thereby clearing a path for own fighters to carry out an offensive and also prevent own systems from being jammed.
  • It has a range of up to 200 km depending upon the launch conditions.
  • The missile can be launched from altitudes of 500 m to 15 km and speeds of 0.6 to 2 mach.
  • The missile, integrated with SU-30 MkI aircraft, has a capability of varying ranges based on the launch conditions.
  • The missile has been designed to further enhance the Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
  • The New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGARM) is being developed by Defence Research Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad, as the nodal agency.
  • It is a joint effort involving several DRDO labs, the IAF, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and several public and private sector enterprises

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