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Ethanol Plant

  • 11 Aug 2022
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: Ethanol Blending, Biofuels, Crude Oil, 2018 National Policy on Biofuels

For Mains: Ethanol Blending and its significance

Why in News?

On World Biofuel Day 2022, the government of India announced a 2nd generation (2G) ethanol plant to be set up at the Indian Oil Corporation’s refinery in Haryana.

  • This ethanol plant will help reduce air pollution from the Delhi and the NCR region along with generating additional income and green fuel.

What is World Biofuel Day?

  • About:
    • It is celebrated every year on 10th of August.
    • It is observed to raise awareness of the importance of non-fossil fuels as a substitute for conventional fossil fuels.
  • History:
    • This day is observed in honour of Sir Rudolf Diesel.
      • He was the inventor of the diesel engine and was the first to predict the possibility of vegetable oil replacing fossil fuels.

What do we know about the Ethanol Plant?

  • It will boost India’s waste-to-wealth endeavours by utilising about 2 lakh tonnes of rice straw (parali) annually to generate around 3 crore litres of ethanol annually.
    • This plant will also utilize maize and sugarcane waste besides paddy straw to produce ethanol.
  • The project will provide direct employment to people involved in the plant operation and indirect employment will be generated in the supply chain for rice straw cutting, handling, storage, etc.
  • The project will have zero liquid discharge.
    • Through reduction in burning of rice straw, the project will contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gases equivalent to about 3 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per annum, which can be understood as equivalent to replacing nearly 63,000 cars annually on the country's roads.

What Is Ethanol?

  • About:
    • It is one of the principal biofuels, which is naturally produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts or via petrochemical processes such as ethylene hydration.
    • It is a domestically produced alternative fuel most commonly made from corn. It is also made from cellulosic feedstocks, such as crop residues and wood.
  • Ethanol as Fuel:
    • The use of ethanol as a fuel for internal combustion engines, either alone or in combination with other fuels, has been given much attention mostly because of its possible environmental and long-term economical advantages over fossil fuel.
    • Ethanol can be combined with petrol in any concentration up to pure ethanol (E100).
      • Anhydrous ethanol (ethanol without water) can be blended with petrol in varying quantities to reduce the consumption of petroleum fuels, as well as to reduce air pollution.

What are India’s Other Initiatives regarding Biofuels?

Way Forward

  • Ethanol From Wastes:
    • India has a real opportunity here to become a global leader in sustainable biofuels policy if it chooses to refocus on ethanol made from wastes.
      • This would bring both strong climate and air quality benefits, since these wastes are currently often burned, contributing to smog.
  • Prioritize Crop Production:
    • With our depleting groundwater resources, arable land constraints, erratic monsoons, and dropping crop yields due to climate change, food production must be prioritized over crops for fuel.
  • Alternative Mechanism:

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Questions (PYQs)

Q. According to India’s National Policy on Biofuels, which of the following can be used as raw materials for the production of biofuels? (2020)

  1. Cassava
  2. Damaged wheat grains
  3. Groundnut seeds
  4. Horse gram
  5. Rotten potatoes
  6. Sugar beet

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2, 5 and 6 only
(b) 1, 3, 4 and 6 only
(c) 2, 3, 4 and 5 only
(d) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Ans: (a)


  • The National Policy on Biofuels, 2018, allows production of ethanol from damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, etc., which are unfit for human consumption.
  • The Policy also allows conversion of surplus quantities of food grains to ethanol, based on the approval of the National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
  • The Policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of sugarcane juice, sugar containing materials like sugar beet, sweet sorghum, starch containing materials like corn, cassava, damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, rotten potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production. Hence, 1, 2, 5 and 6 are correct.
  • Therefore, option (a) is the correct answer.

Source: HT

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