Understanding ethanol blending

For Prelims

What is Ethanol

  • Ethanol also called ethyl alcohol is an organic chemical compound which is volatile, flammable, colourless liquid with a characteristic wine-like odour and pungent taste. It can be produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts or via petrochemical processes such as ethylene hydration.
  • The Government of India aims to achieve 20% ethanol blending in petrol (also called E20) by 2025. Currently 10% ethanol blending in petrol has been achieved. This is in line with the National Policy on Biofuels 2018

Generations of biofuels:

First generation biofuel

  • First-generation biofuels are made from sugar, starch, and vegetable oil. However, the amount of biofuel we could get out of these was limited since cultivating large areas for making biofuel could threaten food security.

Second generation biofuel

  • Second generation biofuels are also called “olive green” or “cellulosic-ethanol” fuel, and are mainly obtained from supportable or non-food feedstocks. Waste vegetable oil, forest residue, industry residue, and sustainable biomass are the primary feedstock for the production of second-generation biofuels

Third generation biofuels

  • Third generation biofuels are also known as “algae fuel” or “oilage” since they are produced from the algae. Algae leads to the production of all types of bio-fuels such as biodiesel, gasoline, butanol, propanol and ethanol with high yield, approximately 10 times higher than the second-generation biofuel.

Fourth generation biofuels

  • Fourth generation biofuel are the result of developments in plant biology and biotechnology (metabolic engineering) in the field of carbon capture and storage techniques. In this generation, bio-engineered plants/tree/algae function as a carbon capture machine to lock carbon in their different parts, that is, leaves, branches, etc., for the feedstock generation of biofuel.

What is ethanol blending?

  • Blending ethanol with petrol to burn less fossil fuel while running vehicles is called ethanol blending.

Countries with Ethanol blending program.

  • The U.S., China, Canada and Brazil all have ethanol blending programmes. Brazil has the most intensive program with 18-27.5% ethanol blending, and it finally touched the 27% target in 2021.

For Mains

Advantages of Ethanol blending

  • Ethanol burns completely emitting nil carbon dioxide.
  • By using the left-over residue from rice harvests to make ethanol, stubble burning will also reduce.
  • The 2G ethanol project in Haryana will reduce greenhouse gases equivalent to about three lakh tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum, which is the same as replacing almost 63,000 cars annually on our roads.