In order to move faster towards its clean energy goal, India will set-up many bio-ethanol plants across the country under the cooperative sector.

 

Details

  • Union Ministry of Cooperation recently said that the production of ethanol was going to change the economy of the petroleum sector of the country in the coming days.
  • The ministry added that ethanol blending will save about Rs 1 lakh crore in foreign exchange reserves.
  • In September 2022, foundation stone was laid for Krishak Bharti Cooperative Limited (KRIBHCO) Hazira’s bio-ethanol project.
  • The plant will use maize as bio resource and the project will also provide raw material for high protein animal feed, fisheries and poultry.
  • Union Minister for Cooperation Shri Amit Shah said that India will set-up many such bio-ethanol plants across the country under the cooperative sector.

 

How is Ethanol produced?

  • In India, the nodal department for the promotion of fuel-grade ethanol-producing distilleries is the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD).
  • Ethanol is produced or procured from sugarcane-based raw materials which are – C & B heavy molasses, sugarcane juice, sugar syrup, surplus rice with Food Corporation of India (FCI) and maize.
  • A paper released by the NITI Aayog stated, that in 2019, over 110 billion liters of ethanol fuel was produced globally. The US and Brazil account for 84% of the global production followed by the European Union, China, India, Canada and Thailand.

 

About biofuel

  • Biofuel is a fuel that is produced over a short time span from biomass, rather than by the very slow natural processes involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as oil.
  • Since biomass can be used as a fuel directly (e.g., wood logs), some people use the words biomass and biofuel interchangeably.
  • However, the word biofuel is usually reserved for liquid or gaseous fuels, used for transportation.
  • Most of biofuel consumption occurs as a blend with refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, and kerosene-type jet fuel. However, some biofuels do not require blending with their petroleum counterparts and are referred to as drop-in biofuels.
  • The most common biofuels now are –
      • Bioalcohols such as ethanol, propanol, and butanol (a substitute for petrol/gasoline);
      • Biodiesel (a substitute for diesel);
      • Bio-oils (substitutes for kerosene).

 

Generations of biofuels

  • Biofuels are also divided into four categories depending on their origin and production technologies.
  • First generation –
    • 1G biofuels are produced from consumable food items containing starch (rice and wheat) and sugar (beets and sugarcane) for bio-alcohols, or vegetable oils for biodiesel.
    • However, the yields of 1G biofuels are low and can have negative impacts on food security.
  • Second generation –
    • 2G biofuels are mainly obtained from non-food feedstocks such as forest/industry/agricultural wastes and waste or used vegetable oils.
  • Third generation –
    • 3G biofuels, known as ‘algae fuel’, are derived from algae in the form of both, biodiesel and bioalcohols.
    • Although the yield of 3G biofuels is approximately 10 times higher than 2G biofuels, producing adequate algal biomass and scaling up extraction techniques are as yet unresolved challenges.
  • Fourth generation –
    • Like the third generation, 4G biofuels are made using non-arable land.
      • However, unlike the third, they do not need the destruction of biomass.
    • This class of biofuels includes electro fuels and photo-biological solar fuels.