Flex-Fuel Vehicles

  • IASbaba
  • January 2, 2022
  • 0
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  • GS-3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 
  • GS-2: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources

Flex-Fuel Vehicles

Context: The government has advised carmakers to start making Flex Fuel Strong Hybrid Electric Vehicles (FFSHEV).

About Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFV)

  • Flex fuel vehicles (FFV) are capable of running on 100% petrol or 100% bio-ethanol or a combination of both.
  • Flex Fuel Strong Hybrid Electric Vehicles (FFSHEV) essentially houses an electric motor which powers the vehicle alongside the traditional petrol engine.
  • However, such vehicles are yet to be made widely available in world markets.
  • Dual fuel vehicle means the engine uses two fuels (gas and diesel) at the same time
  • Bi Fuel means the engine could run on either fuel separately.
  • Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFV) is capable of running on either petrol or ethanol or a combination of both hence it is a synthesis of Dual fuel vehicle and Bi fuel vehicle.

How much blending is being done presently?

  • Bio-ethanol contains less energy per litre than petrol
  • However, the calorific value will become on par with petrol with use of advanced technology.
  • A litre of petrol sold in India has an average of 8% ethanol content even though oil marketing companies have clearance to do 10% (E10) blending.
  • All vehicles manufactured in India are tuned for E10. They will not be able to run on higher ethanol content beyond 10%.

Why factors are pushing government to promote Flex Fuel Vehicles?

  • Reduce Import Bill: In FY21 India’s oil import bill stood at $62.7 billion. The government is desperate to bring down the oil import bill by creating fuel substitutes like ethanol, hydrogen and electricity.
  • Savings: Even a push till the E20 level (20% blending) can result in savings of $4 billion per annum. This is possible only if flex-fuel vehicles are made available in the market.
  • Paris Climate Commitments: Also, FFVs will also help the government meet its commitments when it comes to reducing emission. By hitting E20 
    • Carbon monoxide emissions were 50% lower in two-wheelers and 30% lower in four-wheelers compared to petrol.
    • Hydrocarbons were lower by 20%.

What are the challenges with FFV?

  • Fuel Efficiency: E20 blending will result in drop in fuel efficiency by nearly 6-7% in 4 wheelers designed for E0 and calibrated to E10.
  • Requirement of Automobile Parts: Auto parts that come in contact with higher ethanol content have to be replaced with a compatible product to avoid corrosion.
  • Increased Cost: Because of changes required for vehicle components, higher blending of ethanol increases manufacturing costs of vehicles. Nevertheless, Automotive companies say that they are ready to move with E20 by 2025.

Connecting the dots:

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