Topic of the Day – Methanol Economy Fund

UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – Methanol Economy Fund

In order to promote the production and usage of clean fuel, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Ayog is planning to set up a Methanol economy Fund.  The Methanol economy Fund would be of Rs. 4000 to Rs. 5000 crores. It shall be used for the generation of safer, cheaper and pollution free Methanol fuel. This pollution-free methanol will be manufactured by converting the coal with high ash content and stranded gas.

Methanol is an energy producing fuel that can be used for transportation and cooking. In the event of its increased usage, India’s oil imports bill can be cut down by about 20% over the next few years. Methanol does not have a carbon-carbon bond and is the simplest alcohol. It, therefore, does not emit Particulate Matter (PM) which is a major pollutant. Methanol could easily be produced from renewable sources like agricultural waste, biodegradable waste, forest residues, domestic bio-wastes and biodegradable wastes. Using methanol fuel would not require expensive alteration in vehicle engines so that they could function as methanol engines.

Various production plants have been planned to be set up by the NITI Ayog. Two plants will be commissioned in the next 3-4 years. The world’s largest coal miner Coal India Limited (CIL) will set up the first coal-based methanol plant in West Bengal. NITI Aayog has also given out its proposal and a roadmap to achieve the targets of increasing the usage of methanol as a substitute to Petrol and Diesel fuels. The roadmap will be applicable from the year 2018.

The roadmap consists of solutions to and the designing facilities to convert Biomass, Stranded gas and Coal with high ash content into Methanol. The think tank has also envisioned converting some diesel-powered railway engines to work on Methanol. Methanol will also be used in ships and boats used for inland waterways initiative.

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