Delhi Reconsiders HCNG in Face of Rising Air Pollution

| India: New Delhi | Source: The IndianExpress

CNG dispenser IndiaNational Capital Territory (NCT) and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) are reportedly set to introduce hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (HCNG) to India’s capital city, subject to signing an agreement for setting up a compact steam reformer. If the project goes ahead, Delhi will be come the first city in India to use this fuel.

According to the EPCA report, the gas compact reformer developed by IOCL partially reforms natural gas to provide a hydrogen-CNG mixture consisting 18% hydrogen.* The fuel can then be compressed for direct use in motor vehicles, albeit at about USD 1 cent dearer per km. Because of its flexibility, the reformer can be installed where gas is readily available.

Under consideration by these parties is a report presented by the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) that proposes implementation. Approval will release funding that has been on hold since the project was first mooted mid-2018. The India Environment Portal notes (28 Nov 2018):

“Order of the Supreme Court of India in the matter of M. C. Mehta Vs Union of India & Others dated 28/11/208 regarding Hydrogen Enriched Compressed Natural Gas (HCNG) Project.

“Indian Oil Corporation Limited. has informed the court that the HCNG Project is scheduled to be operational by 31st July, 2019 and the trial on buses with HCNG is likely to begin in August, 2019. Indian Oil Corporation Limited is of the view that it may be possible to introduce HCNG buses by some time in February, 2020.

As per estimates drawn up by the EPCA, to fuel Delhi’s existing fleet of around 5,500 CNG buses, daily requirement of HCNG would be about 400 tonnes. The panel has recommended that four plants, having 100 tonnes capacity each, be set up, which it said will cost around Rs 330 crore (USD 46.2 million).

Delhi’s air pollution was rated “Severe to Emergency” in December with the Air Quality Index (AQI) for particulate matter on Christmas Day ranging from 360 to 500 for PM 2.5 and from 216 to 500 for PM 10.The Indian AQI “Good” rating is 0-50. (Source:

CNG and HCNG produce virtually no PM. Additionally, according to a report published mid-2018 by The Hindustan Times, “HCNG […] has been found to cut carbon emissions by around 70% compared to BS-VI CNG.” NOx emissions are also reduced.

* NGV Global advises that in accordance with UNECE R110, Item 2.4, “Gas composition Hydrogen shall be limited to 2 per cent by volume when tanks are manufactured from steel with an ultimate tensile strength exceeding 950 MPa.” Widespread adoption will involve a change of fuel composition standards to encourage its use. NGV Global welcomes inquiries by email to

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