SIAT 2019 today saw the presence of Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister (Road Transport & Highways). Gadkari used the platform of the global automotive technology conclave to unveil the M15 Blending Programme.
The M15 Blending Programme essentially constitutes 15% blending of methanol in petrol, a project on which the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) has been working over the past few months. BS IV-compliant vehicles were used under this M15 project and according to ARAI director Rashmi Urdhwareshe, “IOC Faridabad defines M15 as 82% gasoline, 3% additive and 15% methanol.”
It is to be noted that there has been a DHI-funded research project conducted by ARAI and TERI to measure air quality in Delhi-NCR titled ‘Source Apportionment and Air Quality Measurement’. Under this ARAI has tested vehicles under the M15 programme for over 3,000 kilometres. The performance was then measured with petrol to find improvements in fuel efficiency and significant reduction in emissions.
By 2030, 20% of India's total fuel mix could be biofuels
Prashant Guru Srinivas, expert group member, Methanol Committee, NITI Aayog, said that India must embrace a methanol economy as it is a cost-effective fuel and can be made from high-ash content coal.
He added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target of substituting 10% crude oil imports by 2030 can be met under the M15 programme. In fact, he pointed out that M15 has the potential to achieve up to 20% crude oil import substitution by 2030. Srinivas added that 20% of the total fuel mix in India could be biofuels by 2030.
NITI Aayog has been working in three areas on biofuels: utilisation (methanol produced from high-ash content coal), production and R&D. “We (must) build a coal-to-methanol plant over the next 3 to 5 years under the M15 programme. It would be a significantly large plant with annual capacity of producing 2 to 2.5 million tonnes. There is enough methanol available in India to produce cost-effective fuel.”
Pointing out the need for increased use of biofuels, Nitin Gadkari said, “India imports 7 lakh crore rupees worth of crude oil per annum. We need local pollution-free technology to substitute these imports, bring down the costs. The time has come to use ethanol produced from sugarcane molasses. Currently, the ethanol economy in India is Rs 11,000 crore. The target is to grow this to 2 lakh crore.”
Gadkari added, “Companies like TVS Motor Company and Bajaj Auto, who manufacture two- and three-wheelers, must work on this. In my constituency, we commissioned 35 Scania buses which are running on 100% bio-ethanol. We are also sanctioning 40 new buses (100% biofuel run) under a new pilot project to study the impact of the fuel. The municipal corporations of Pune, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Guwahati will get 10 buses each.”
Gadkari said, “We are commissioning a Center of Excellence on methanol for ARAI. My ministry will give the required financial assistance to ARAI for this.”
He suggested that ARAI conduct research on LNG and electrified public transportation. “There will be no permit required for the buses and three-wheelers running on electricity and bio-fuels (methanol and ethanol). The way in which the number of automobiles is growing on our roads, it is really going out of control. We have to aggressively look at public transportation systems running on electricity.”