Rochan Sinha (left) and Prasanta Sarkar, co-founders of Newtrace
Image: Nishant Ratnakar for Forbes India
Prasanta Sarkar was on an extended backpacking jaunt in India when he decided to stay back and work on a problem. He signed up for Entrepreneur First and hit it off right away with Rochan Sinha. In 2020, they co-founded Newtrace to develop a new class of “membraneless” electrolysers to make a dent in the “green hydrogen” market, which currently is a miniscule portion of the 6 to 7 million tonnes of hydrogen produced in the country annually, all from fossil fuels.
The duo understands the nitty-gritties of build a deep engineering-based hardware product—together bringing many years of experience in areas ranging from aerospace engineering to nanomaterials and electrochemistry.
They have set out to reduce the cost of “green hydrogen” to a level comparable to that of the “grey hydrogen” made from natural gas—currently the clean version is about six times more expensive, they say. And the electrolysers themselves can cost $2,000 or more per kilowatt hour capacity.
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In simple terms, in the conventional electrolysers, the membrane serves to keep the hydrogen and oxygen separate as they can be an explosive mix. “In our electrolyser, we decided to remove the membrane altogether and use the flow of water to separate the gases,” says Sarkar.
And they’re designing the device to make it with locally available materials and components in India. They expect to execute an industrial pilot demonstration of their tech and subsequently move into commercial production this year.
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(This story appears in the 24 February, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)