Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari has announced that he would issue an order to encourage car manufacturers to develop flex-fuel engines that would run not just on petrol but also ethanol.
Gadkari made this announcement while addressing a virtual Rotary District Conference (reported first by Business World) where he said, “We have surplus sugar, we are diverting sugar to ethanol, I am transport minister, I am going to issue an order to the industry, that only petrol engines will not be there, there will be flex-fuel engines, where there will be choice for the people that they can use 100 percent fuel or 100 percent ethanol, I am going to take a decision very soon within 8-10 days and we will make it (flex-fuel engine) mandatory for the automobile industry.”
What is ethanol?
In case you didn’t know, ethanol is a biofuel that’s made from ethyl alcohol — the alcohol that we commonly consume. It’s made from biomass like sugarcane, corn, hemp, potato and even cassava which goes through ethanol fermentation, where it releases glucose and other sugars in the corn (or sugarcane or other crops) which are then converted into ethanol and carbon dioxide.
During his address, he highlighted to the visitors that ethanol was already being used in the US, Canada and Brazil and he even explained that for car owners to make the switch to ethanol, all they need is to replace a small metal washer in the air filter with a rubber one.
Advantages of Ethanol
Gadkari added that ethanol has several advantages, “The ethanol rate is Rs. 60 Per liter and Petrol rate is Rs 100 per liter, ethanol is a better fuel than petrol, it is cost effective, pollution free and an import substitute, with this cost difference our people will save 30-35 Rs per liter. By (using) the Flex Engine, we can make all scooters, motorcycles and cars engines flexible, By which we can serve the farmers.”
Last year, the government had laid a target of 10 percent for ethanol blending with petrol by 2022 and by 20 percent by 2030. However, last year, PM Modi announced that the target for 20 percent blending was advanced by 5 years in 2025 to reduce import dependence and cut down pollution.
Gadkari also shared how it could help farmers and the Indian economy, “This is going to boost the Indian economy because we have rice, corn, wheat and sugar in surplus, we don’t have a place to store these surplus food grains.”
“Our MSP is higher than the market price, the government has always taken care of the farmers and that is why we have decided that we can make ethanol from the food grain, and therefore ethanol can be made from sugar cane juices and molasses and third generation ethanol can be extracted from biomass like bamboo and there we can resolve the problem of surplus.”
Today, petrol prices in the nation’s capital has crossed Rs 97 per litre whereas diesel has come around 88. In Mumbai, petrol prices have crossed Rs 100 mark, and is currently stable at Rs 103, with diesel crossing Rs 95 per litre.