Tamil Nadu

What is Ethanol-blended petrol? Should we be concerned?

Photo used for representation purpose only. File   | Photo Credit: AFP

Recently, fuel outlets began placing banners stating that the petrol they sell contains ethanol, which is a bio-fuel obtained primarily from sugarcane. Some are even printing on their bills that the petrol has been blended with 10% ethanol. This blending is being done by the oil marketing companies in their terminals and is not something new and is being used the world-over. There have been incidents of vehicle owners questioning water in the petrol, especially down south in the State. Here are a few frequent question and answers pertaining to ethanol-blended petrol.

What is ethanol?

It is the organic compound Ethyl Alcohol which is produced from biomass. It is also an ingredient in alcoholic beverages. It has a higher octane number than gasoline, hence improves the petrol octane number. Ethanol has insignificant amount of water in it.

Will blending ethanol with petrol have any effect on the vehicle’s pick up?

It will not have any effect. Since ethanol contains oxygen, it is supposed to help in complete combustion of fuel, resulting in lower emissions.

Where and how is the ethanol blended?

Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. blends ethanol at its terminals at Tiruchi, Coimbatore, Salem and Madurai. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd blends the bio-fuel with petrol at its terminal in Chennai, while Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. in terminals in Chennai and Karur.

A stream of ethanol stored in a tank is loaded through a separate pumping and metering mechanism into the petrol loading arm at terminals.

Where does Tamil Nadu get ethanol from?

Mainly from Maharashtra and Karnataka. There are some suppliers from Tamilnadu but the quantity is not much. However, the State-run oil marketing companies do not have any bio-fuel plants in the State, though Indian Oil Corporation has planned one plant each in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana.

What is the percentage of ethanol that is blended?

From April 2020 – January 2021, the blending percentage in Tamil Nadu has been 1.91% per litre. It increased to 6.73% in January 2021, as against the target of 10% per litre.

How much does ethanol cost?

A litre of ethanol currently costs ₹61. But its price depends on internal fuel prices. There is however no change in the price of petrol or motor spirit, as it is called, due to ethanol blending. The consumer pays for a litre of petrol only.

There are complaints that ethanol leaves behind water in the underground tanks of fuel outlets and also in vehicle tanks?

Petroleum dealers have been asked to adhere to quality checks as stipulated by oil companies for the fuel they receive and store. There is no issue in case such checks are conducted and proper procedures followed. Ethanol has an insignificant amount of water in it and if the mix is as stipulated it does not do any harm. Since ethanol is blended in the terminal itself, there is no chance that it will separate from the petrol.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 2:03:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/what-is-ethanol-blended-petrol-should-we-be-concerned/article33954659.ece

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