In News: India’s first ‘flex fuel’ car, a Toyota sedan has been developed as part of a new pilot. The nationwide pilot has been initiated as part of a government-led push to car – makers for adopting alternative fuels and to replicate the commercial deployment of this particular technology in other markets such as Brazil, Canada, and the US.
- There are over 21 million flex fuel vehicles in the United States
- Brazil is the leader in this segment.
The Mechanics of Flex Fuel Technology:
- A flex fuel, or flexible fuel, vehicle has an internal combustion engine (ICE), but unlike a regular petrol or diesel vehicle, this can run on more than one type of fuel, or even a mixture of fuels.
- The ICE can use a blend of petrol and ethanol or methanol and can also run on 100 per cent petrol or ethanol as well.
- This is made possible by equipping the engine with a fuel mix sensor and an engine control module (ECM) programming that senses and automatically adjusts for any ratio of designated fuels.
- Flex fuel vehicles have one fuel system, and most components are the same as those found in a conventional petrol-only car.
- Modifications such as special ethanol-compatible components are required to adjust to the different chemical properties and energy content in ethanol or methanol. The ECM is also calibrated to accommodate the higher oxygen content of ethanol.
- The use of ethanol blending sharply lowers harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulphur, and carbon and nitrogen oxides.
- It will deleverage the country’s dependence on oil imports for transportation
- Many flex fuel vehicles have improved acceleration performance when operating on higher ethanol blends.
- It marginally decreases fuel efficiency when using ethanol for motive power.
- Over 90% of ethanol produced in the country, came from sugarcane alone and sugarcane production is usually very water-intensive.
- Further, since sugarcane is a politically important crop, there is a perceived political angle to the ethanol/methanol blending push.
About ethanol production in India:
- Currently, around 9.5% ethanol blending with petrol has been achieved in fuel dispensed in pumps in most metros and it is likely that the targeted 10 per cent ethanol blending will be achieved by November 2022. But this is slated for a major bump up, with the government’s 2025 target of 20 per cent blending of ethanol in petrol envisaged in its National Biofuel Policy 2018.
Source: The New Indian Express