Time to reap the ethanol dividend

The Central government and the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) are planning to introduce vehicles that run on ethanol on the City’s roads.

Engines that run on ethanol will be imported and introduced on a trial basis. Manufacturers will be urged to produce vehicles with engines that run on ethanol.

In the wake of escalating fuel costs and depleting resources, Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport, Shipping and Highways, had some time back proposed to introduce E-85 engines for vehicles that run on 85 pc ethanol and 15 pc on petrol/diesel. But now, there is talk about engines that run on 100 pc ethanol.

Sources said some such engines will soon be imported from Brazil. Then, the government will ask vehicle manufacturers to produce similar engines in India. They will be given a timeframe for this.Vehicles that run on such engines would be first introduced in metropolitan cities on a trial basis and gradually made mandatory, the sources said.

There is success in running ethanol-based vehicles in the private sector too.

Sampanna Muthalik, General Manager of Indian Cane Power Limited, Davangere, has been running 12 cars on ethanol on an experimental basis for the last two years.

“There is no need to modify the vehicle. All that one needs is a conversion kit, like
the ones in some vehicles for conversion from petrol to LPG, having a knob. Performance and mileage are no problem.”

Experts point out that the effort can be successful in Karnataka as it is self-sufficient in ethanol. Diwakar Rao, head (biofuel) of the Vision Group on Biotechnology, says ethanol has 70 pc more calorific value than petrol and can be produced at a lower cost.

Vaman Acharya, chairman of the KSPCB, said ethanol is a cleaner fuel with zero wastage. That is the need of the hour in cities like Bangalore, where vehicular pollution is a major problem, he added.

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