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Biofuels

Topics Covered: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Biofuels

Context:

Researchers of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad have started using computational methods to understand the factors and impediments in incorporating biofuels into the fuel sector in India.

  • A unique feature of this work is that the framework considers revenue generation not only as an outcome of sales of the biofuel but also in terms of carbon credits via greenhouse gas emission savings throughout the project lifecycle.

Outcomes:

The model has shown that if bioethanol is integrated with mainstream fuel, the costs associated with it are follows: production cost 43 per cent, import 25 per cent, transport 17 per cent, infrastructure 15 per cent, and inventory 0.43 per cent.

The model has also shown that the feed availability to the tune of at least 40 per cent of the capacity is needed to meet the projected demands.

Significance of Biofuels:

Globally, biofuels have caught the attention in last decade and it is imperative to keep up with the pace of developments in the field of biofuels.

  • Biofuels in India are of strategic importance as it augers well with the ongoing initiatives of the Government such as Make in India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill Development and offers great opportunity to integrate with the ambitious targets of doubling of Farmers Income, Import Reduction, Employment Generation, Waste to Wealth Creation.

What are Biofuels?

Any hydrocarbon fuel that is produced from an organic matter (living or once living material) in a short period of time (days, weeks, or even months) is considered a biofuel.

Biofuels may be solid, liquid or gaseous in nature.

  1. Solid: Wood, dried plant material, and manure
  2. Liquid: Bioethanol and Biodiesel
  3. Gaseous: Biogas

Classification of Biofuels:

1st generation biofuels are also called conventional biofuels. They are made from things like sugar, starch, or vegetable oil. Note that these are all food products. Any biofuel made from a feedstock that can also be consumed as a human food is considered a first-generation biofuel.

2nd generation biofuels are produced from sustainable feedstock. The sustainability of a feedstock is defined by its availability, its impact on greenhouse gas emissions, its impact on land use, and by its potential to threaten the food supply. No second generation biofuel is also a food crop, though certain food products can become second generation fuels when they are no longer useful for consumption. Second generation biofuels are often called “advanced biofuels.”

3rd generation biofuels are biofuel derived from algae. These biofuels are given their own separate class because of their unique production mechanism and their potential to mitigate most of the drawbacks of 1st and 2nd generation biofuels.

4th generation biofuels: In the production of these fuels, crops that are genetically engineered to take in high amounts of carbon are grown and harvested as biomass. The crops are then converted into fuel using second generation techniques.

Government of India initiatives to promote the use of Biofuels:

Since 2014, the Government of India has taken a number of initiatives to increase blending of biofuels.

  1. The major interventions include administrative price mechanism for ethanol, simplifying the procurement procedures of OMCs, amending the provisions of Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951 and enabling lignocellulosic route for ethanol procurement.
  2. The Government approved the National Policy on Biofuels-2018 in June 2018. The policy has the objective of reaching 20% ethanol-blending and 5% biodiesel-blending by the year 2030.
    • Among other things, the policy expands the scope of feedstock for ethanol production and has provided for incentives for production of advanced biofuels.
  3. The Government has also increased the price of C-heavy molasses-based ethanol.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is a biofuel?
  2. Categorisation of biofuels.
  3. Overview of National Policy on Biofuels.
  4. What is ethanol? How is it produced?

Mains Link:

Discuss the importance of biofuels for India? Critically examine whether the national policy on biofuels will help India unlock it’s biofuel potential?

Sources: pib.