The world in the twenty first century presents several crucial challenges. One among the foremost challenges is the environment. Advances in technology have allowed development of alternative energy sources. The alternative energy sources are renewable, cleaner and more dependable than fossil fuels.

India will shortly notify the emission standards for vehicles that may ply on 85-95 per cent ethanol-blended fuel. Recently, the road transport Ministry had issued a draft notification setting emission standards for flexi-fuel ethanol (E85) and ethanol (ED95) vehicles. E85 is often utilized by flexible-fuel vehicles (FFV) in the United States and Europe.

Alternative energy source

Ethanol is a high hydrocarbon, water-free alcohol made from the fermentation of sugar. It has been used as a staple to provide high-octane fuel-ether additives. Ethanol is made from grains (mainly corn) or different renewable agricultural or forestry products like wood, distillery waste, potatoes, cheese whey, paper waste, beets, or vegetable waste.

When it is mixed with gasoline, ethanol will increase the levels of hydrocarbon, reduce exhaust emissions and expand the availability of fuel. Ethanol in its liquid form, known as ethyl alcohol, is used as a fuel once amalgamated with fuel or in its original state.

Ethanol-blended fuel can be used for old and new engine technology. The automotive engines older than 1969 with non-hardened valve seats may need a lead substitute added to gasoline or ethanol. When the valve burning is decreased the ethanol blends are used because ethanol burns cooler than ordinary unleaded gasoline. Several high performance racing engines use pure alcohol for that reason.

American experience

About two billion gallons of ethanol are produced annually in the United States. The first ethanol-blended gasoline in the 1970s was 10 percent ethanol (E-10), while a blend of 85 percent by volume (E-85) was introduced in the mid-1990s.

Ethanol is one among the most effective tools to control pollution. It decreases the pollution through the volumetrically displacement of gasoline and by adding element to the combustion method that reduces exhaust emissions.

The use of ethanol results in reductions in every pollutant regulated by the environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as carbon monoxide, ozone, air toxins, nitrogen oxides and the particulate matter. The latest cars of the late 1990s and beyond include on-board diagnostic monitoring systems capable of monitoring tailpipe and evaporative emissions.

Advances in technology not solely improve observation and management of emissions, but also make it possible to use blends of up to 85 percent ethanol. These versatile fuel vehicles are ready to sense the volume of ethanol in gasoline and build the required engine changes for best potency, performance and emission levels.

More recently, the country has focused attention on additional advantages of ethanol. The ethanol has ability to provide octane while replacing other environmentally dangerous components in gasoline. Another study also recommends that using ethanol can slow global warming. In fact, the ethanol is produced in the USA. It brings down imports by replacing imported gasoline and crude oil. Reducing fuel and crude oil imports reduces American dependence on foreign oil.

According to poll conducted by the Research Strategy Management(RSM), about 75 percent of Americans believe the country needs to do something to reduce its dependence on foreign oil.

Today, ethanol is widely used and available in most areas of the United States. Ethanol-blended gasoline has been marketed by companies like Sunoco, Exxon, BP-Amoco, Texaco, ARCO, Mobil, Getty, Union, Phillips, Shell, Chevron and Super-America apart from others. The American consumers have driven more than two trillion miles (80,000 trips around the world) on ethanol-blended fuel since 1978.

Prospects of Ethanol-blended fuel

To meet the new standards the auto manufacturers are responding to the technical challenges. The new model vehicles have on-board diagnostic monitoring systems capable of monitoring tailpipe and the evaporative emissions from 1996. Latest computer technology makes this possible and E-85 vehicle models are being produced every year.

The programmes also are in place to reduce emission levels by modernizing engine technology in mass transit town buses and over-the-road trucks. Buses in many cities are powered by regenerate diesel engines that burn 100 percent ethanol.

If half of the nation’s buses switched to ethanol fuels, it’d create a new market for 100 million bushels of corn per year. “e-diesel,” a blend of ethanol and diesel fuel, is being introduced for use in large trucks, tractors and construction equipment.

Ethyl tertiary chemical group ether (ETBE) is being tested and used as a motor fuel additive in reformulated fuel. Ethanol and ETBE blends in gasoline are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for mandated winter-time oxygenated fuel programmes where the target is to lower vehicle CO emissions from motor vehicles. Expanded use of ETBE might offer another 200 million bushel marketplace for US corn growers.

The US Congress is additionally considering a national renewable fuels demand that might increase the use of ethanol to five billion gallons each year by the end of the decade. This renewable fuel standard would serve to expand the production and use of ethanol across the country and would supply the impetus for manufacturing ethanol from a wide variety of renewable feed stocks.

Indian context

At present, only one 100 per cent ethanol-fuelled bus is operating in Nagpur. According to the road transport Ministry draft notification the newly manufactured petrol vehicles fitted with spark ignition engine compatible to run on petrol or a mixture of petrol and ethanol up to 85 per cent ethanol blend (E85) shall be type approved according to the prevailing petrol emission norms. The newly manufactured ethanol-blended fuel vehicle with gross vehicle weight above 3.5 tonnes compatible to run on 95 per cent ethanol (ED95), shall be type approved as per prevailing diesel emission norms. This new technology will help to reduce pollution and cut the dependence on petrol and diesel.

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