Special Correspondent

Production not enough in the country, says former director of National Sugar Institute

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Central Government's directive to oil companies to blend petroleum with five per cent ethanol from October 1 this year is premature as not enough ethanol is produced in the country at present, and therefore the decision should be deferred, the former director of National Sugar Institute (Kanpur) N.A. Ramaiah said here on Wednesday.

Talking to The Hindu , he said that an estimated 90 to 95 crore litres of ethanol (alcohol) would be needed by the oil companies for a five per cent blending with petrol. "At present, all the distilleries in the country are producing 130 crore litres a year. But 85 to 90 per cent of the ethanol is being used for production of value-added chemicals such as acetic acid and potable liquor. And there is very little left for blending with petrol,'' he noted.

``The solution lies in setting up of sugar cane-based alcohol units by the oil companies themselves,'' he stated.

According to his estimates, production of ethanol by direct fermentation of cane juice is more economical than conventional method adopted in sugar factories.