UNIDO project on hydrogen powered three-wheelers

Vittorio Coco (Consultant and Adviser of Sri Lanka Hydrogen powered three-wheeler project (left) meets Nawaz Rajabdeen (UNIDO National Director for Sri Lanka (right) at the UNIDO Focal Point. Office in Colombo on May 8.

Sri Lanka will move into the hydrogen fuel era shortly. The entry will be through the small scale SME sector rather than large scale motor transport. “UNIDO is planning the pilot project in Galle where hydrogen powered three-wheelers supported by a mini hydrogen filling station will show us as to how to implement this technology in the country”, said UNIDO National Director for Sri Lanka, Nawaz Rajabdeen.

He was speaking at a discussion with Vittorio Coco, the Consultant and Adviser of Sri Lanka’s first Hydrogen powered pilot project which is set to test hydrogen powered three wheelers (tuk-tuks) in the Galle Fort. “Three wheelers are banned in the UNESCO World Heritage Galle Fort due to their emissions but with the use of hydrogen powered zero emission wheelers, there will be no hazard whatsoever.

The test site is chosen intentionally to demonstrate the high quality, non-polluting nature of hydrogen fuel”, Rajabdeen said.

Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen said: “I am pleased to see UNIDO’s forward looking initiatives start from small and SME sectors. If viable, the transport cost savings from hydrogen fuel can benefit our growing industry sector considerably.”

The one-year pilot project in Sri Lanka is modelled on ‘HyAlfa’, the world’s first hydrogen powered three wheeler launched in India in January 2012 by Mahindra and Mahindra. At mass production levels, the hydrogen powered Indian tuk-tuks are estimated to cost only 12 percent compared to standard three wheelers used there. Mahindra’s HyAlfa’s reports 80 Km mileage for one kilogram of hydrogen.

“UNIDO is also planning to bring Indian experts at the official announcement in Colombo in mid-June” Rajabdeen said. “We want the hydrogen implementation to be in combination with existing renewable energy used in the country, and will not abandon existing renewable energy sources at all”, said Vittorio Coco.

The Sri Lanka pilot project will use 15 hydrogen powered zero emission three-wheelers in the Galle Fort and monitor them for their pollutant-free runs. It is initiated as a private-public partnership venture in which the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, UNIDO, three wheeler drivers’ associations, environment and pro-green organisations, local three wheeler assemblers (such as David Pieris Motor Company which assembles Bajaj three-wheelers in Hambanthota), importers, and line Ministries of energy and environment.

“The important outcome from the Galle test will be the understanding we will gain as to how to use hydrogen fuel across Sri Lanka’s small scale and SME transport sector which will then be expanded to the transport sector including motor transport and fishing boats”, said Vittorio Coco.

“Also, existing three wheelers will not need to be re-manufactured, but only need simple alterations to the engine and fuel tank”, he said.

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