India’s ethanol production for blending with petrol has increased from 38 crore liters in 2013-14 to an estimated 450 crore liters in the current 2021-22 supply year (December-November). And with NITI Aayog supply to achieve an estimated 20 per cent blending of 1,016 crore liters by 2025-26, a new logistics challenge is emerging – moving this alternative fuel from distillation to blending depots and retail points.
“At present, the entire quantity of ethanol is being transported by road on truck-tankers. About 3.5 lakh tankers with an average capacity of 29 kiloliters would be required to carry 1,016 crore liters. This is not only costly, but will amount to burning fuel to move fuel and will result in greenhouse gas emissions of around 76 million tonnes, said Akhilesh Goel, managing director of Madhya Pradesh-based Mareva Sugars Pvt Ltd. Ltd.
According to Goyal, the government should consider alternative options for ethanol movement through dedicated pipelines, rail tank wagons and ferries/steamers in the coastal areas. At a recent conference on sugar and ethanol organized by the Indian Sugar Mills Association and Brazilian Agriculture, he said, “They are also looking at the RORO (roll-on/roll-off) model of transporting ethanol truck-tankers themselves by rail. can.” Consultancy firm Datagro.
Datagro President Plinio Nastari said Brazil (which produces 3,500 million liters of ethanol annually) has 14 oil refineries and 354 ethanol distilleries that supply 170 fuel depots across the country. The movement of fuel and ethanol in the depot is entirely through pipelines, rail or coastal vessels. Transport by truck-tankers is only in the final stages, from the depot to the 41,700 retail outlets.
cost and emissions
Ethanol production has got a boost due to the attractive price policy of the government. But the logistics of moving and distributing large volumes present a challenge not only in terms of cost, but also in terms of emissions. This can result, inevitably, in burning fuel to carry fuel.
Nastari realized that there was no need for dedicated pipelines to transport ethanol. “Over the past 40 years, we have been using multi-product pipelines for the movement of diesel, gasoline (petrol) and ethanol,” he said. Nastari, however, advocated some caution because of ethanol being a solvent, which dissolves gums that build up in gasoline and accumulate in tanks. “Having a filter in the fuel hose pipe can ensure that this glue (which comes from gasoline and not ethanol) will cause no problems to vehicles,” he said.
India’s ethanol production of 38 crore liters in 2013-14 enabled only 1.53 per cent blending with petrol. The current supply year’s production of 450 crore liters – 370 crore from sugarcane-based distilleries and 800 crore liters from those using grain feedstock – will help achieve 10 per cent blending.