By-products that are derived from agricultural waste are used in some places as animal fodder. However, in most of the cases farmers throw away the waste into ditches without knowing about its potential and fire is set to it. This adds a lot to the air pollution in the vicinity.
But the Department of Biotechnology in India has found a new way to turn this waste into biofuel. Science Minister Harsh Vardhan has inaugurated a plant for this on April 22. At this plant, waste derived from agriculture is converted into ethyl alcohol or bioethanol, which can be used as biofuel and replace the fuel that are imported.
A demonstration plant was established in Kashipur of Uttarakhand in the premises of India Glycols Limited, which is petrochemical company that aims to be green and clean. Ethanol was earlier generated from sugarcane and corn maize with the help of technology. This was called 1G ethanol. But converting agricultural waste into ethanol is a new technology, which is called @G ethanol.
The 1G ethanol plants in the country can produce 2.5 billion litres of fuel. But the oil-based industries require a demand of 5 billion litres annually. 1G ethanol plants won’t be able to suffice the need. But there’s plenty of scope for extracting 2G ethanol, since it is a natural by-product coming from agricultural waste and is available in plenty.
India’s farmers produce about 100 million tonnes of agriculture waste, which if used in 2G ethanol biofuel plant we can gain 100 billion litres of biofuel. This can be easily replace petrol or diesel, or even it can be blended with fuel to reduce pollution and improve mileage.
It can convert a range of agricultural products like bagasse, rice, wheat, cotton stalk, bamboo etc.
The demonstration plant currently is capable of converting and processing 10 tonnes of waste daily, but higher capacity plants are being made that can process 250 to 500 tonnes of waste daily. 2G ethanol can be sold at cheaper rates than fuel like Rs 25 per litre.
The national policy for biofuel and diesel has a mandatory order that at least five per cent biofuel must be blended with diesel. The government plans to increase this to 20 per cent by 2020. With 1G biofuel plants, India can only feed up to 3 per cent of this demand. But an increase in the 2G ethanol production could feed further demand, if such biofuel plants are set up everywhere around the country.
The Logical Indian appreciates the efforts of the Department of Biotechnology to use biofuel instead of normal fuel. We urge the government to set up more and more 2G ethanol plants so that India does not have to depend on imported fuel.