Ethanol fuel is making news in India because the government has expedited efforts to boost the local output of oil and a transition to alternative fuels to cut its import bill.
India plans to introduce 20% ethanol blending with gasoline in some parts of the country from April 2023, while a nationwide rollout is expected only from 2025-26.
This move will directly contribute to reducing India’s fuel bill while simultaneously curbing carbon emissions from the transportation sector.
The development assumes significance as the first 100 Percent Ethanol Based Flex Fuel car has been launched in India.
The new Innova will be powered by a hybrid powertrain that combines a petrol engine with an electric motor.
How does ethanol fuel blending help in reducing carbon emissions?
Ethanol fuel blending can help reduce carbon emissions by decreasing the amount of gasoline used in vehicles.
Ethanol fuel is a renewable fuel made from plant materials, and when it is blended with gasoline, it can reduce the carbon footprint of transportation.
The use of ethanol-blended petrol decreases emissions such as carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
Higher reductions in CO emissions were observed with E20 fuel, which was 50% lower in two-wheelers and 30% lower in four-wheelers.
Compared to regular gasoline, ethanol blends have a 20% reduction in hydrocarbon emissions. However, there are concerns about the inefficient land and water use for ethanol extraction as well as food security concerns.
How much ethanol fuel can be blended with gasoline?
Ethanol can be blended with gasoline in various proportions. The most common blend is E10, which is a mixture of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline.
This blend is approved for use in any conventional, gasoline-powered vehicle and is sold in every state.
More than 98% of U.S. gasoline contains up to 10% ethanol to boost octane, meet air quality requirements, or satisfy the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Other blends include E15, which is composed of 10.5% to 15% ethanol and gasoline.
E15 is approved for use in model year 2001 and newer light-duty conventional vehicles.
E85 (or flex fuel) is an ethanol-gasoline blend containing 51% to 83% ethanol, depending on geography and season that qualifies as an alternative fuel under EPAct.
E85 can be used in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which have an internal combustion engine and are designed to run on E85, gasoline, or any blend of gasoline and ethanol up to 83%.
In India, the government plans to introduce 20% ethanol blending with gasoline in some parts of the country from April 2023, while a nationwide rollout is expected only from 2025-26.