Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday held a high-level stakeholders meeting to deliberate upon a strategy to use methanol as an alternative fuel in automobiles. The Minister has asked government think-tank Niti Aayog to study the automobile standards developed in China to use methanol as an alternative fuel.
“Methanol economy will help India use its vast reserves of coal while driving import substitution. Research in converting carbon dioxide to methanol is promising and can be a game-changer for methanol economy,” Mr. Gadkari said after chairing the meeting. Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, New and Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal along with former union minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar were also present in the meeting.
“Mr. Gadkari stressed on the use of local or indigenous materials for production of fuel like making ethanol from agriculture produce or waste and from coal,” a Road Transport and Highways Ministry spokesperson said. In its presentation, Niti Aayog said methanol is a promising fuel for waterways as it is clean, cheaper than fossil fuels and a good substitute for heavy fuels. It suggested that ethanol could be made out of coal and informed that a pilot project was already underway in Talcher in Odisha.
India imports methanol from Saudi Arabia and Iran at present, the think-tank said, adding that it is working on a roadmap for conversion from coal to methanol.
The government think-tank also said that methanol can be produced from municipal waste as well.
“All stakeholders agreed that methanol is a promising fuel used in many parts of the world. While in most countries it is being made from natural gas, for India it makes much more economic sense to use locally available coal,” the spokesperson said.