Assam to introduce methane as cooking fuel

Prelims level : Environment Mains level :
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In news:

  • Public sector Assam Petrochemicals Limited is set to introduce – in a first in India – methanol as cleaner, cheaper alternative to liquefied petroleum gas.


  • As India grows, it would like to fuel its rising energy demand in an energy secure, affordable, accessible and sustainable manner
  • LPG is prepared by refining petroleum or “wet” natural gas, and is almost entirely derived from fossil fuel sources, being manufactured during the refining of petroleum (crude oil), or extracted from petroleum or natural gas streams as they emerge from the ground
  • Methanol (CH3OH) is a single carbon compound which can be produced from coal, natural gas, biomass (i.e. products which are capable of producing syngas), whereas DME (CH3OCH3) which is the simplest ether compound can be produced from methanol or directly from syngas.

Advantages of Methanol:

  • Methanol and Dimethyl ether (DME) can play an important role in order to contain the rising imports and improve the energy security of India.

Methanol and DME to be used as a Transportation Fuel:

  • Methanol is an efficient fuel (octane number 100) and emits lesser NOx and Particulate matter (PM) than gasoline and produces no SOx as there is no sulphur in methanol
  • It can be blended (or be completely substituted) with gasoline to use as a transport fuel along with other applications.
  • It is a highly efficient fuel, can be blended with gasoline/diesel, emits lesser NOx, PM, no Sox
  • Therefore, this would reduce the already high import dependence on crude oil (82% of the crude requirements were met through imports in 2016-17) of India

Clean cooking fuels:

  • Methanol/DME to help in achieving the objective of access to clean cooking fuels in India and further the flagship initiative of the Government, PMUY (Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

Displacing diesel in Telecom Towers:

  • Telecom towers in India consume around 2% of diesel (1.5 MT) consumption which is a significant amount indicating a vast potential for DME to replace diesel.

In news:

  • Public sector Assam Petrochemicals Limited is set to introduce – in a first in India – methanol as cleaner, cheaper alternative to liquefied petroleum gas.

Production of various chemicals:

  • Methanol can be used for producing various chemicals like formaldehyde, acetic acid and olefins which can be exported and can be high foreign exchange earners.

Boost to Swachh Bharat Mission:

  • Methanol can also be produced from waste which would give a boost to India’s flagship programme “SWACHH BHARAT MISSION”

India’s Target:

  • India has already set itself an ambitious target of 10% reduction in import dependence of oil & gas by 2022 in comparison with 2014- 15 levels

Problems of Methanol:

  • However, methanol is more corrosive than gasoline and may require new equipment for storage and distribution of the same • It’s also toxic to humans if ingested.

Way Forward:

  • As India moves ahead with its ambitious developmental agenda, it has the right to use its carbon space, though; India has taken effective measures to reduce its emissions. By using methanol, India will be to achieve energy security to some extent.
  • India can and must leapfrog to a Methanol Economy which could significantly reduce its import dependence and carbon footprint. A recently released NITI Aayog paper also suggested the same
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