Hyderabad: Tata Steel, the country's oldest and largest steel maker, on Monday said it is at an advanced stage of securing partnerships for a R&D programme to produce Hydrogen from water vapours generated in cooling process, and plans to sell the gas in the market.

Sumitesh Das, Chief of Global Research Program at Tata Steel said the programme, if successfully commercialised, will get the company more revenue than the sale of steel.

"When water is sprinkled on molten slag, discharged at temperatures of over 1,500 degrees centigrade, it breaks down into hydrogen and oxygen molecules. You need a vessel to collect the captured Hydrogen gas.

"You pressurise it and it may be piped to different places. That is where we are trying to engage different parties (to capture, store and transport and utilise)," Das said.

 According to Das, who was in the city to participate in a programme on intellectual property management, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Tata Steel is at an advanced stage of clinching partnerships to capture large part of the hydrogen generated through this route.

He said the company may earn more money from the sale of hydrogen than steel.

"That is the final ambition if we can make hydrogen work and we have already filed patent for the process," he said.

"We are talking with few firms both domestic and international. What we are trying to see is how to develop it into a close loop circuit. But that is beyond our steel experience. So, we need to have parties with whom we will work and take it forward," he explained.

The idea of producing Hydrogen from water vapours came up in a casual chitchat between Ratan Tata and Tata Steel’s Deputy Managing Director Tridibesh Mukherjee in August 2005.

On the way to Kolkata airport, Mukherjee suggested to Ratan Tata the possibility of formation of Hydrogen gas during the process of molten slag quenching.

Tata Steel’s R&D unit which carried out a feasibility study of Hydrogen Harvesting (H2H) process was able to collect 90 per cent of the gas in the process.

Sumitesh Das said Tata Steel hopes to meet the power requirements of its entire steel plant with harvested Hydrogen gas, and in the next 12-20 months they may be able to reach the goal.

(Agencies)