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PIB Summary for UPSC

7-March -2024

1. Promoting Clean Coal Technology: Coal Gasification

Topic: GS3 – Science and Technology – Development and their applications Crucial for UPSC as it reflects India’s strategy in balancing coal production, clean energy transition, and economic development.
Context
  • The Ministry of Coal, India, is promoting coal production while emphasizing a transition to cleaner energy.
  • The Coal Gasification Mission aims to gasify 100 million tonnes of coal by 2030, with strategic partnerships and financial assistance schemes supporting clean coal initiatives.
 Additional information on this news:
  • The Ministry of Coal, Government of India, emphasizes promoting coal production alongside a transition to cleaner energy alternatives like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power.
  • Recognizing environmental concerns, the ministry is at the forefront of clean coal technology, particularly coal gasification, aligning with the government’s vision for a resilient and sustainable energy ecosystem.
  • Coal plays a pivotal role, constituting nearly 70% of India’s total electric generation and being a critical input in industries like steel, sponge iron, cement, and paper.
  • The Coal Gasification Mission aims to gasify 100 million tonnes of coal by 2030 through surface coal/lignite gasification projects.
  • Strategic bilateral agreements and MoUs have been established to drive collaborative efforts, including partnerships between BHEL & CIL and IOCL, GAIL & CIL.
  • A financial assistance scheme with ₹8500 crores allocation supports Coal/Lignite Gasification Projects by Government PSUs and the Private Sector.
  • Joint venture agreements, such as the one between CIL and BHEL for an ammonium nitrate plant through coal gasification, signify significant progress.
  • The adoption of gasification technology aims to reduce import reliance, contribute to Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, and generate employment opportunities.
  • The government actively engages in clean coal initiatives like CBM extraction, Coal to Hydrogen, CCS, and coal beneficiation for enhanced environmental sustainability.
  • Research and development investments prioritize improving coal utilization efficiency and developing innovative technologies for long-term competitiveness and sustainability.
Coal Gasification Technology
  • Definition: Coal gasification is a process that converts coal into a gas mixture containing carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and other compounds, often referred to as synthesis gas or syngas.
  • Chemical Process: The technology involves reacting coal with oxygen, steam, and/or air under high temperatures and pressures to break down complex hydrocarbons in coal into simpler gaseous components.
  • Syngas Composition: The resulting syngas typically consists of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and trace impurities.
  • Applications: Syngas can be used as a versatile feedstock for the production of various chemicals, fuels, and electricity. It can also be converted into liquid fuels through Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.
  • Environmental Benefits: Gasification allows for the capture and storage of pollutants, reducing the environmental impact compared to traditional coal combustion. It enables more efficient carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
  • Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC): This technology integrates coal gasification with a combined cycle power generation system, enhancing overall efficiency and reducing emissions.
  • Challenges: High capital costs and the need for advanced gas cleaning technologies are challenges associated with coal gasification. The technology also requires careful management of byproducts, such as ash and tars.
  • Research and Development: Ongoing research aims to improve gasification efficiency, reduce costs, and address environmental concerns, contributing to the continued development and deployment of coal gasification technology.
PYQ: In spite of adverse environmental impact, coal mining is still inevitable for development. Discuss. (150 words/10m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-1 2017)
Practice Question:  Discuss the strategic significance of India’s Coal Gasification Mission in achieving energy security, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. (150 words/10 m)

2. APEDA facilitates agriculture exports to new markets, focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, Shree Anna

Topic: GS3 – Agriculture – Storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce The topic is crucial for UPSC as it highlights India’s strategic efforts to diversify agricultural exports and foster global partnerships.
Context
  • The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is boosting India’s agricultural exports by diversifying products.
  • It is being done by expanding into global markets, promoting Shree Anna-Millets, and facilitating substantial export growth to Iraq, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and the UK.
 Additional information on this news:
  • The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is actively promoting agricultural exports from India by diversifying its export basket.
  • APEDA’s strategy focuses on priority products like fresh fruits, vegetables, processed foods, and animal products, aiming to reduce reliance on a few items and move up the value chain.
  • The organization is expanding into key markets such as Europe, Latin America, and Asia, forging small partnerships with global supermarkets to showcase Indian products internationally.
  • APEDA is working on reducing logistical expenses by establishing sea protocols through collaborations with research institutions.
  • The promotion of Shree Anna-Millets aligns with the government’s vision for a healthier and diversified food landscape.
  • APEDA’s efforts have led to the development of various value-added products under the Shree Anna brand, contributing to the export value chain.
  • During April-November 2023, APEDA facilitated significant export growth to key markets like Iraq (110%), Vietnam (46%), Saudi Arabia (18%), and the UK (47%).
  • APEDA is supporting startups, women entrepreneurs, and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs/FPCs) to participate in global events, fostering inclusivity.
  • In response to exporter feedback, APEDA is initiating participation in new fairs in emerging markets like Turkey, South Korea, Kenya, South Africa, and Japan, aiming to enhance market access and sustainable growth opportunities for Indian exporters.
Significance of exports for Indian agriculture
Importance: India is a major agricultural exporter, contributing 2.4% of global agricultural trade in 2021 [Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare].  In 2021-22, agricultural exports reached a record US$49.6 billion, a 20% increase [Indian Trade Portal]. Need for Exports:
  • Farmer Income: Exports create a wider market for Indian produce, potentially increasing farmer income and incentivizing production.
  • Reduced Waste: Exporting surplus produce reduces post-harvest losses, a major challenge in India.
  • Foreign Exchange Earnings: Exports contribute significantly to India’s foreign exchange reserves, stabilizing the economy.
  • Risk Mitigation: Dependence on domestic markets poses risks; exports provide diversification, reducing vulnerability to local fluctuations.
  • Global Market Access: Exporting opens doors to diverse international markets, enhancing competitiveness.
Challenges:
  • Post-Harvest Management: Poor infrastructure leads to spoilage. Investment in cold storage and processing facilities is crucial.
  • Quality Standards: Meeting stringent global quality standards poses a challenge for many Indian agricultural products.
  • Infrastructure Constraints: Inadequate cold chain facilities and transportation infrastructure hinder the timely delivery of perishable goods.
  • Tariff and Non-tariff Barriers: International trade barriers and protectionist policies in some countries limit market access.
  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures: Strict regulations for food safety and plant health compliance can be challenging.
Way Forward:
  • Focus on Value Addition: Processing agricultural products before export increases their value and shelf life.
  • Farmer Support: Providing farmers with training and resources to meet international standards is vital.
  • Investment in Infrastructure: Enhance cold storage, transportation, and processing facilities to ensure quality and timely delivery.
  • Promote Research and Development: Invest in technology and research to improve crop quality and productivity.
  • Trade Diplomacy: Engage in diplomatic efforts to negotiate favorable trade agreements, reducing barriers and opening new markets.
  • Skill Development: Train farmers in best practices and quality control to meet global standards.
By addressing these challenges, India can strengthen its position as a global agricultural leader and improve farmer livelihoods.
Practice Question:  How can India overcome challenges in agricultural exports, including quality standards, infrastructure constraints, and trade barriers? Discuss the significance of promoting agricultural exports for economic growth and the well-being of farmers. (150 words/10 m)

3. New catalyst can facilitate urea-assisted water splitting – a new strategy for energy-efficient hydrogen production

Topic: GS3 – Science and Technology – Development and their applications
Crucial for UPSC: Breakthrough Neodymium Nickelate catalyst enhances hydrogen production efficiency, vital for clean energy transition and environmental sustainability.
Context
  • Scientists at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences developed a stable Neodymium Nickelate catalyst, reducing energy needs by 30% in urea-assisted water splitting for efficient hydrogen production, addressing industry-scale implementation challenges.
 Additional information on this news:
  • Scientists at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences in Bengaluru have identified a promising catalyst, Ni3+-rich Neodymium Nickelate (NdNiO3), for urea-assisted water splitting in hydrogen generation.
  • Urea electro-oxidation reaction (UOR) reduces energy demand for electrochemical hydrogen production by about 30% compared to the oxygen evolution reaction.
  • The team utilized neodymium nickelate as an electrocatalyst for UOR, demonstrating a direct mechanism that minimizes catalyst degeneration and reconstruction, unlike indirect mechanisms in Ni2+-rich catalysts.
  • Neodymium nickelate exhibits superior reaction kinetics, enhanced stability during prolonged electrolysis, and remarkable tolerance to COx poisons, addressing a significant challenge in UOR catalysts.
  • Computational calculations validate the experimental findings, and the research, published in ACS Catalysis, suggests future studies should focus on enhancing NiOOH species on Ni3+-rich substrates for improved performance and sustainable hydrogen production with low mass loading of active Ni.
PYQ: UPSC Prelims 2023 Question: With reference to green hydrogen, consider the following statements: 1.     It can be used directly as a fuel for internal combustion. 2.     It can be blended with natural gas and used as fuel for heat or power generation. 3.     It can be used in the hydrogen fuel cell to run vehicles. How many of the above statements are correct? a) Only one b) Only two c) All three d) None Correct Answer: Option c) All three

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