Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday (24 January) inaugurated a demo-run of an inland water vessel powered by a blend of methanol and diesel (MD15).
The boat ride was conducted on a 50-seater motor launch vessel named ‘SB Gangadhar’, equipped with two Ruston diesel engines, and will run on MD-15 (15 per cent methanol blended High Speed Diesel).
“A mighty new initiative on Mahabahu Brahmaputra. In a unique step towards developing alternative sources of clean energy, very happy to flag off & ride on an inland water vessel using Methanol Blended Diesel MD15 with my colleague Rameshwar Teli Ji in Guwahati today,” Puri said in a tweet on Tuesday.
“This initiative is inspired by PM Shri Narendra Modi Ji’s vision to develop inland water connectivity in India’s North East. An environment friendly fuel, it will also be ₹5-7 cheaper and result in 20% less SOx & NOx emissions,” he added.
Methanol is a low carbon hydrogen carrier fuel that can be produced from high ash coal, agricultural residue, CO2 from thermal power plants, and natural gas. It is considered a viable option for meeting India’s commitment to COP 21.
Although it has slightly lower energy content than petrol and diesel, methanol can be used to replace both of these fuels in the transport sector, energy sector, and retail cooking.
In an interaction with the media, the minister stated that the Assam Petrochemical Limited (APL) in Namrup currently produces around 100 tonne per day (TPD) of methanol and is in the process of implementing a new project for producing 500 TPD of methanol.
He also mentioned that work is underway to establish Coal-to-Methanol plants in India using indigenous technology developed by BHEL, Thermax, and IIT Delhi.
Methanol is a cost-effective alternative marine fuel that is less expensive than other marine fuels and is economical in terms of developing the shoreside storage and bunkering infrastructure, the Petroleum Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
The cost to convert vessels to run on methanol is significantly less than other alternative fuel conversions with no need for expensive exhaust gas after treatment and as a liquid fuel, only minor modifications are needed for existing storage and bunkering infrastructure to handle methanol, it added.
Blending 15 per cent methanol in gasoline can result in a reduction of at least 15 per cent in the import of gasoline/crude oil and reduce GHG emissions by 20 per cent in terms of particulate matter, NOx, and SOx, thereby improving urban air quality, it said.