- UDAN 5.1 Scheme
- Sodium-ion Batteries
Focus: GS II: Government Policies and Interventions
Why in News?
Recently, Ministry of Civil Aviation launched UDAN 5.1, specifically designed for helicopter routes.
About UDAN 5.1 Scheme:
The UDAN 5.1 scheme is an extension of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) called Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), initiated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in India. It aims to enhance connectivity to remote areas and achieve last-mile connectivity through helicopters. Here are the main features of the UDAN 5.1 scheme:
- Expanded Operations: The scheme allows operators to fly routes where one of the origin or destination locations is in a priority area, increasing the scope of operations. Previously, both points had to be in priority areas.
- Reduced Airfare Caps: Airfare caps for helicopter flights have been reduced by up to 25%, making flying in helicopters more affordable for passengers.
- Increased Viability Gap Funding (VGF) Caps: VGF caps for operators of both single and twin-engine helicopters have been substantially increased. This increase aims to enhance the financial viability of operating the awarded routes.
- Existing Helicopter Routes: Previous rounds of the UDAN scheme have already made 46 helicopter routes operational, benefiting hilly and North-East states. The current round aims to cover an even larger number of routes, expanding the reach of air connectivity.
About Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN):
Nodal: Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
- It is a regional airport development and “Regional Connectivity Scheme” (RCS) of the Union Government of India.
- The scheme envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through the revival of existing airstrips and airports.
- To create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes so that flying becomes affordable to the common man even in small towns.
- To stimulate regional air connectivity and making air travel affordable to the masses.
- The scheme envisages providing connectivity to un-served and underserved airports of the country through the revival of existing air-strips and airports. The scheme is operational for a period of 10 years.
- UDAN is a market driven ongoing scheme where bidding rounds are conducted periodically for covering more destinations/stations and routes under the scheme.
- Interested airlines assess the demand on particular routes connecting these airports and submit their proposals at the time of bidding.
- Under this phase, 5 airlines companies were awarded 128 flight routes to 70 airports (including 36 newly made operational airports)
- In 2018, the Ministry of Civil Aviation announced 73 underserved and unserved airports.
- For the first time, helipads were also connected under phase 2 of UDAN scheme.
Key Features of UDAN 3 included:
- Inclusion of Tourism Routes under UDAN 3 in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism.
- Inclusion of Seaplanes for connecting Water Aerodromes.
- Bringing in a number of routes in the North-East Region under the ambit of UDAN.
- The 4th round of UDAN was launched in December 2019 with a special focus on North-Eastern Regions, Hilly States, and Islands.
- The airports that had already been developed by Airports Authority of India (AAI) are given higher priority for the award of VGF (Viability Gap Funding) under the Scheme.
- Under UDAN 4, the operation of helicopter and seaplanes is also been incorporated.
Focus: GS III: Science and Technology
Why in News?
Recently, Indian scientists have made a significant breakthrough in the development of Sodium-ion (Na-ion) batteries by creating new cathode materials that offer high performance, cost-effectiveness, and environmental stability.
New Developments in Cathode Materials for Sodium-ion Batteries
- Cathode material serves as the electrode storing sodium ions during battery discharge.
- It facilitates electrochemical reactions for the flow of electrical current.
- Newly developed cathode materials are known for their air/water stability and high performance.
- They demonstrate excellent cyclic stability and resistance to air/water exposure.
- Newly developed cathode materials for sodium-ion batteries offer significant benefits.
- They deliver high performance while being cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
- These materials are driving the development of efficient and sustainable energy storage systems.
- Applications include consumer electronics, grid energy storage, renewable energy storage, and electric vehicles.
Sodium-ion (Na-ion) Batteries
- A sodium-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery comparable to the ubiquitous lithium-ion battery, but it uses sodium ions (Na+) as the charge carriers rather than lithium ions (Li+).
- The working principles and cell construction of sodium-ion batteries are similar to lithium-ion batteries, but sodium compounds are used instead of lithium compounds.
- Na-ion batteries are gaining attention as a potential alternative to lithium-ion batteries due to their lower cost, higher availability, and reduced environmental impact.
- With the increasing importance of battery-powered electric vehicles in addressing climate and environmental concerns, there is a need for cost-effective, resource-friendly, safe, and sustainable battery systems beyond lithium-ion.
- The abundance of sodium sources in India makes sodium-ion batteries particularly significant, as they offer a readily available and abundant resource for battery production.
- The performance of sodium-ion batteries relies on factors such as electrode stability, sodium-ion transport kinetics, and dynamic resistances.
- Further improvements are needed in the electrochemical behavior and stability of sodium-based cathode materials for widespread adoption of sodium-ion battery systems.