An Insight Into India’s Ethanol Blending Policy
- The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to the National Policy on Biofuels, 2018, to advance the date by which fuel companies have to increase the percentage of ethanol in petrol to 20%, from 2030 to 2025.
- India has been working for two decades to create an ecosystem that will allow more ethanol to be blended into gasoline for use in automobiles, notably two and four wheelers.
- According to government data, two-wheelers account for 75% of India’s 220 million vehicles, while four-wheelers account for 12%.
- Ethanol, often known as ethyl alcohol, is a hydrocarbon that can generate heat and power engines when burned.
- However, ethanol is substantially more expensive than gasoline to run a vehicle’s engine.
- It also produces leftover by-products that can corrode and damage the car, which is why, while vehicles can run on ethanol, they must be calibrated to ensure that efficiency and usability are not compromised.
- Sugarcane, molasses, and maize can all be used to make ethanol, which, given India’s agricultural base, makes sense.
Status in India:
- Since 2001, India has been testing the practicality of ethanol-mixed gasoline by supplying retail outlets with 5% ethanol blended petrol (95 percent petrol-5 percent ethanol).
- In 2002, India established the Ethanol Mixed Petrol (EBP) Program, selling 5% ethanol blended gasoline in nine states and four union territories, which was then expanded to twenty states and four union territories in 2006.
- However, until 2013-14, the percentage of mixing never exceeded 1.5 percent.
- The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways announced in 2015 that E5 gasoline (a blend of 5% ethanol and 95% gasoline) and the rubber and plastic components used in gasoline cars manufactured since 2008 are compatible with E10.
Challenges for Automobile Manufacturers:
- When utilising E20, four-wheelers initially intended for E0 and calibrated for E10 will lose 6-7 percent fuel efficiency, two-wheelers designed for E0 and calibrated for E10 will lose 3-4 percent, and four-wheelers designed for E10 and calibrated for E20 will lose 1-2 percent.
- Car manufacturers claim that by modifying engines (hardware and tuning), the efficiency loss caused by blended fuel can be mitigated.
- Tax incentives on E10 and E20 fuel may be proposed to compensate customers for the efficiency loss caused by ethanol blended fuels.
- Flex Fuel Engine technology (FFE), or vehicles that operate solely on ethanol, is popular in Brazil, accounting for over 80% of all new vehicle sales in 2019.
- Flex fuel vehicles (four-wheelers) could cost anywhere from $17,000 to 25,000 more than the current generation of automobiles.
Source: THE HINDU.
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