All you need to know about: Ethanol Blending

The government has come up with a renewed focus on the practice of ethanol blending. Here is all you need to know about it.

  • What is ethanol blending?:
    • It is the practice of blending petrol with ethanol.
    • Ethanol is 99% pure.
  • How is ethanol derived?:
    • Sugarcane industry is one of the important sources of ethanol.
    • It is derived from biomass through the fermentation process using glucose derived from sugar(sugarcane, sugar beet, and molasses), starch(corn, wheat, grains) and cellulose(forest products).

 

Image result for ethanol blending

Ethanol Blending of Petrol

 

  • What are the advantages of ethanol blending?
    • It increases the octane rating(a standard measure of the performance of the engine) of the fuel and thus acts as an anti-knocking agent.
    • It reduces the emissions of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrocarbons.
    • Lead and other carcinogens will be reduced.
    • Better combustion of engine fuel.
    • It will reduce the overall demand of petrol. This will alleviate the import burden of petrol–>around 80 million litres of petrol could be saved annually.
    • Reduced pollution will also help in checking the pollution-related health problems like asthma, cardiovascular diseases among others.
    • Cheaper than petrol, thus, savings for the consumers.
    • The demand of ethanol will increase giving a boost to the sugarcane industry which is the major source for ethanol.
  • What are the disadvantages related to ethanol blending?:
    • As the demand of sugarcane will increase, the products of sugarcane will also become more expensive. Thus, sugar can become costlier. This could cut the savings indeed.
    • The plants of sugarcane, sorghum etc. which are used for deriving ethanol would be cut. These plants play an important role in carbon sequestration. Thus, the sinking of carbon which tackles pollution will be affected.
    • The processes involved in making the engines adaptable to ethanol blended petrol will put a burden on the automobile industry. This burden could be transmitted to the consumers in the form of increased cost of vehicles.
    • Oil companies also need to alter their processes which could be a humongous task.
  • What are the policy measures taken by the government till now?:
    • Auto fuel policy 2003 found mention of ethanol blending.
    • National Policy of Bio-fuels,2009: Petrol blended with at least 5% of ethanol.
    • Recently, the Ethanol Blending Programme saw a tweak with the percentage blending increased from 5% to 10%.
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