With an eye on reducing pollution and fuel costs, Union Minister of Road and Transport Nitin Gadkari announced on a plan to allow blending 15 percent methanol with petrol, according to PTI. He said methanol made from coal costs only Rs 22 per litre and can thus lower fuel costs.
- It must be noted that well-to-wheel emissions for coal-derived methanol can be extremely high. Thus, for methanol-blended fuel to actually reduce pollution, proper manufacturing of coal-based methanol must be followed.
- Petrol supplied in India is already blended with ethanol, however, due to, the limited production of ethanol, this is not all across. Gadkari also mentioned that the petroleum ministry has been asked to look into improving this instead of building expensive petrol refineries.
Alternative Fuel is Methanol
Another alternative fuel is methanol. Methanol is made from natural gas, coal, and biomass. It is also known as wood alcohol. This was one of the older alternative fuels. It used to be used in vehicle concentrations as high as M85, but it is not commonly used in such high blends anymore because automakers are not developing methanol powered vehicled. Like Ethanol, Methanol is very good for blending with gasoline to replace the harmful octane enhancers.
- The benefits of using Methanol are that it reduces emissions, which has a significant effect on bettering the environment. Methanol blended with gasoline significantly increases the performance of the automobile. It also has a lower risk of flammability than normal gasoline. Another benefit of Methanol is that it is made from domestically renewable sources. Methanol can also be used to make the octane enhancer MTBE. Another huge possible benefit of Methanol is that it can be made into hydrogen, which could be used as a link for hydrogen fuel cells. (which we will discuss later)
- Some of the disadvantages of Methanol are that although its emissions are safer than that of gasoline, it has a high amount of formaldehyde emissions. As with Ethanol, it gets less gas mileage, so it would require more frequent fueling. The cost of Methanol is also slightly higher than that of premium gasoline. Unfortunately, the number of vehicles and vehicle fueling sites have significantly decreased over the past few years. It is being used even less now because recently MTBE has been found to contaminate groundwater.