On the occasion of World Biofuel Day, PM Modi dedicated the 2nd generation (2G) ethanol plant set up at the Indian Oil Corporation’s Panipat refinery in Haryana.
- The 2nd generation (2G) ethanol plant was inaugurated at the Indian Oil Corporation’s Panipat refinery in Haryana.
- It will utilise about 2 lakh tons of rice straw (parali) annually to generate around 3 crore litres of ethanol annually.
- Hence, the plant will give farmers of Haryana, where rice and wheat are grown in abundance, a financially rewarding alternative to burning the crop residue.
- The plant puts India in the league of US and Brazil, the only two countries that had 2G ethanol technology till now.
About biofuels –
- 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.
- 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 –
- Bio-alcohols such as ethanol, propanol, and butanol (a substitute for petrol/gasoline);
- Bio-diesel (a substitute for diesel);
- Bio-oils (substitutes for kerosene).
Generation 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 bioalcohols, 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.
- Like the third generation, fourth 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.
What is Ethanol Blending?
- Ethanol is a biofuel, naturally produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts or by petrochemical processes like ethylene hydration.
- Ethanol is high in oxygen content, allowing an engine to more thoroughly combust fuel.
- In ethanol blending, a blended motor fuel containing ethyl alcohol derived from agricultural products is blended with petrol specifically.
Ethanol production in India –
- 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.
- The molasses go through three stages — A, B, and C (in this stage the molasses are most un-crystallised and non-recoverable).
- A molasses – What is left after the sugar has been crystallised out once.
- ‘B’ heavy molasses – When A molasses are re-boiled and more sugar crystallised out, the remaining syrup is second molasses.
- The ‘C’ molasses roughly constitute 4.5% of the cane, and have a remaining total fermentable sugars (TFS) of 40%.
- A paper released by the NITI Aayog stated, that in 2019, over 110 billion litres 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.
India’s Biofuel Policy –
- In 2021-22, the Central government amended the Biofuel Policy (2018) to set a target of country-wide blending rates of 20% ethanol and 5% biodiesel by 2025.
- According to the Roadmap for ethanol blending in India 2020-2025 report from NITI Aayog, India will need to increase ethanol production capacity from the expected 3.3 billion litres (in 2020–2021) to at least 10.2 billion litres (5.5 billion litres from sugarcane and 4.7 billion litres from grains) by 2025.