Sentient Labs, an Indian-based R&D innovation lab and MACS - Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), have developed what they claim to be a "world first" in generating hydrogen directly from agricultural residue for use in fuel-cell powered vehicles.

Sentient Labs said that this hydrogen generation technology uses agricultural residue rich in cellulose and hemicellulose content – in the likes of paddy, wheat or maize residue.

The process uses microbial culture for the direct generation of hydrogen from agricultural residues.

It further generates methane, which is utilized for producing additional hydrogen by steam methane reformation.

According to Sentient, this process can avoid the burning of bio-mass generated in large measure in the Indian countryside and generate organic manure and CO2, which finds applications in various industries.

Ravi Pandit, chairman of Sentient Labs said: "We incubated Sentient Labs to work on technology R&D projects related to mobility and energy.

"This innovation affirms our commitment to Mission Hydrogen and Make in India charter by the government.

This breakthrough of generating hydrogen from unutilized agricultural residue will help us become self-reliant on energy resources.

"It will also add a major stream of revenue to the farmer community. We will continue R&D and invite partners to come on board for production and commercialising the same.”

Dr. Prashant Dhakephalkar, director, Agharkar Research Institute said, "Our technology is 25% more efficient as compared to conventional anaerobic digestion processes used today.

"The innovative two stage process eliminates the pre-treatment of the biomass, thus making the process economical and environment friendly.

This biologically benign process generates digestate rich in nutrients which can be used as organic fertilizer.

"Its by-products can be used as soil conditioners while undigested solids for briquetting that can be sold as solid fuel. "

Pawan Sharma, president and CEO of Sentient Labs said:

“The milestone in collaboration with Sentient Labs has the potential to radically transform the agricultural industry and garner new sources of value-creation."