NEW DELHI : The government is planning to convert its inland waterways and army trucks into methanol engines with an aim to promote alternative fuel to reduce India’s dependence on imported petrol and diesel.
Top government official told ET that talks are on with Deccan Water Treatment to undertake the conversion of existing diesel engines into methanol as the government enhances focus on green fuel.
“NITI Aayog is facilitating conversion of inland waterways at Haldia, Varanasi and Allahabad under this project,” the official quoted above said.
The project will be implemented through Deccan ScandiNAOS India, a 70:30 joint venture between Deccan Water Treatment and ScandiNAOS with the latter being the technology partner.
The Aayog has drawn a comprehensive plan to replace 20% of crude imports from methanol alone which will help bring down pollution in the country by more than 40%. Under the plan, 500 barges will be converted to run on 100% methanol replacing heavy oil or bunker oil, resulting in reduction of pollutants into seas and rivers.
This could be followed by conversion of army trucks into methanol and even diesel railway engines as India scales up domestic production of methanol.
“Deccan ScandiNAOS India aims to drive the ‘Methanol Economy’ program in India, in-line with the government’s initiative to promote and adopt alternative fuels in the country, by providing design and supply methanol fuel solutions for internal
combustion engines as well as conversion for existing conventional fuel engines to run on methanol,” Animesh Sarkar, chairman and managing director of the JV company said.
Methanol is a low carbon, hydrogen carrier fuel produced from high ash coal, agricultural residue, CO2 from thermal power plants and natural gas and the government feels it is the best pathway for meeting India’s commitment to COP 21.
It is estimated that the cost of gasoline including taxes is Rs 94.49 per litre and the cost of ethanol, including taxes on an energy equivalent basis with gasoline is Rs 69.9 while the cost of methanol on an energy equivalent basis with gasoline is Rs 37.6, making methanol more economical compared to ethanol and petrol.
Even the production of methanol from coal is the most economically viable option for India, with other sources being natural gas, naphtha, biomass etc.
This is because coal reserves are abundant in India and relatively cheaper compared to natural gas or crude oil, a significant proportion of which is imported