Time to take biofuel seriously, say experts

Time to take biofuel seriously, say experts

Cheaper alternative to petrol, diesel

SVO emits 60 per cent less carbon dioxide than diesel and provides good mileage, too.

In the wake of petrol and diesel prices being hiked four times in the past 11 months, the findings of R T Naik, a faculty with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at IISc Bangalore on SVO as a biofuel in Automobile Diesel Engines, prove to be a boon.

The Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP) and the State government funded Naik’s research.

Naik’s report submitted to the State Transport Department in May last indicates that SVO can be an alternative to diesel. So far, SVO has been tested only in diesel-based engines. The project, which was started in April 2010, used a single-cylinder diesel engine custom-made for the research.

Pongamia oil
Mechanical extractors were used to extract oil from Honge seeds, which is called pongamia oil. The resultant product is either methyl or ethylester along with glycerol, said Naik.

With the aid of another professor, Naik undertook transesterification process, wherein raw oil was mixed with alcohol and a catalyst.

The admixture was stirred for more than three hours at 60 degree Celsius. When the contents of the final product were compared with diesel after a span of six months, SVO was found fit to be used in diesel engines.

Profitable venture
“People in villages, too, can produce SVO. All that is required is Honge seeds from which oil can be extracted. Villagers can convert it into a profitable venture with financial aid by the State government,” added Naik. However, there is no biodiesel station in the country yet.

KSRTC introduced ethanol-based diesel in August this year. Also, the Karnataka State Bio-fuel Development Board (KSDB) Executive chairman Y B Ramakrishna said the department had planned to set up information centres to popularise biofuel in district headquarters across the State by December. KSDB also aims to plant 1.5 crore biofuel- yielding saplings by 2013.

Unless awareness is created among people about the importance of biofuel, there won’t be a decline in the consumption of fossil fuels, said Naik.