Govt plans to replace diesel with Methanol for army trucks & inland waterways | Updated: January 18, 2022, 12:10 PM

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Govt plans to replace diesel with Methanol for army trucks & inland waterways

The government is planning to convert its army truck and inland waterways diesel engines into Methanol ones. In doing so, the government aims to reduce the nation’s dependency on petrol and diesel.

What is Methanol?

Methanol is a low carbon, hydrogen carrier fuel produced from high ash coal, agricultural residue, CO2 from thermal power plants, and natural gas, and the government feels it is the best pathway for meeting India’s commitment to COP 21.

Methanol as an Alternate Fuel

The NITI Aayog has been planning to shift to methanol as a source of energy for various uses. Most recently, it has been reported that the government is now in talks with Deccan Water Treatment to undertake the conversion of diesel engines used in Inland waterways into methanol engines as the government plans to focus on green fuel in the coming years. This project is most likely to be implemented through Deccan ScandiNAOS India, which is a 70:30 joint venture between Deccan Water Treatment and Scandi NAOS respectively, with Scandi as the technology partner.

“NITI Aayog is facilitating conversion of inland waterways at Haldia, Varanasi, and Allahabad under this project,” said an official.

The government is also planning to set up five methanol plants based on high ash coal, five DME plants, and one natural gas-based methanol production plant with a capacity of 20 MMT/annum in a joint venture with Israel. Three boats and seven cargo vessels are also being built by the Cochin Shipyard Limited for Inland Waterways Authority of India to use methanol as a marine fuel.

The aim is to replace up to 20% of crude imports by Methanol alone which will help greatly in reducing crude oil imports and promoting a more sustainable way of life. Using Methanol instead of other fuels is also expected to bring down the pollution levels in the country by 40%. According to the government’s plan, 500 barges are to be converted to run on 100% methanol replacing heavy oil or bunker oil. This will also result in reduction of pollutants in seas and rivers.

Moreover, the government also plans to replace diesel engines used in Army trucks and railway engines to methanol engines. Chairman and Managing Director of the JV Animesh Sarkar said, “Deccan ScandiNAOS India aims to drive the ‘Methanol Economy’ program in India in-line with the government’s initiative to promote and adopt alternative fuels in the country by providing design and supply methanol fuel solutions for internal combustion engines as well as conversion for existing conventional fuel engines to run on methanol.” 

Future Plans

The NITI Aayog mentions in its plan for building a Methanol Economy in India, “although slightly lower in energy content than petrol and diesel, methanol can replace both these fuels in the transport sector (road, rail and marine), energy sector (comprising DG sets, boilers, process heating modules, tractors and commercial vehicles), and retail cooking (replacing LPG [partially], kerosene and wood charcoal). Blending of 15% methanol in gasoline can result in at least 15% reduction in the import of gasoline/crude oil. In addition, this would bring down GHG emissions by 20% in terms of particulate matter, NOx, and SOx, thereby improving the urban air quality.”

A Methanol economy will reduce India’s oil import bill, its dependency on petrol and diesel, and will also result in reducing current oil inflation as methanol will also be very cost efficient.