In India, the use of biofuels has been increasing steadily over the years due to their lower cost compared with fossil fuels. In fact, the government has been encouraging the use of biofuels for a long time now in different industries and sectors such as transportation, agriculture, and electricity generation. They help to lower greenhouse gas emissions by reducing reliance on fossil fuels such as coal that contribute significantly towards global warming.
What is Biofuel?
Biofuel is a renewable source of energy that can be used to power vehicles, electricity and industries. Biofuels are derived from biological sources such as plants, animal fats and vegetable oils.
Today, there are several emerging technologies that are looking for ways to convert waste-to-energy including the plastics wastes and Municipal solid waste (MSW).
Sources of Biofuel
There are several types of biofuels that are actually explored and used in India. It’s a well-known fact that agriculture plays an important role in India’s economy. So, there is no doubt that surplus agricultural waste is available. Usually, any plants or animal based organic materials comprise the biofuel. Some sources of biofuels are:
- Agriculture byproducts: Rice husk, Cashew Shell, Groundnut shell, Soya husk, Turmeric spent, Molasses, Sugarcane residues, Jatropha, Corn, Canola oil, Corn oil, Palm oil, Rapeseed oil, Sunflower oil, Soya bean oil, etc.
- Animal fats: Animal tallow oil, chicken tallow oil, and etc.
- Wood industry waste such as sawdust and wood chips
- Several loose biomass materials
- Plastic wastes
- Tyre wastes
- Other residues include used cooking oil, acid oils, municipal solid wastes, RDF, LDPE, HDPE, etc.
Notably, ethanol is primarily used as a blending component in petrol in India. Since the government has mandated a minimum ethanol blending ratio, the use of ethanol has drastically improved. The main source of biofuel is ethanol, which is primarily produced from sugarcane.
In addition to ethanol, India also produces biodiesel from non-edible oilseeds such as jatropha and pongamia. However, the production of biodiesel in India is still in its early stages and is yet to reach the scale of ethanol production.
Overall, ethanol from sugarcane remains the main source of biofuel used in India. With the government’s push towards increasing the blending percentage of ethanol in petrol and the growing demand for sustainable and renewable energy sources, the demand for ethanol is expected to rise in the coming years. Not only ethanol, all other emission-less biofuel as well.