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Ethanol blending plan in rough weather

The Govt's ambitious plan to introduce 10 per cent E-10 has run into rough weather with both the automobile and the oil industries raising a host of issues, reports Deepak Joshi.
By Deepak Joshi | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 25, 2008 09:37 PM IST

The government's ambitious plan to introduce 10 per cent ethanol blended petrol (E-10) has run into rough weather with both the automobile and the oil industries raising a host of issues. It has sought a sufficient lead-time for the introduction of E-10.

“The industry has expressed reservations for implementation of E-10 due to modifications of engine and other components. Existing vehicles are not compatible to E-10,” an automobile manufacturer who was part of various interactions with government departments told the Hindustan Times.

Laboratory testing of E-10 on certain models of vehicles has indicated that there is a considerable reduction in carbon monoxide emission, whereas there is an increase in Nox emission. There is also a drop in fuel efficiency by 2-4 per cent.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), in a presentation to the petroleum ministry, also pointed out that the E-10 fuel also affects material compatibility. Stickiness and deposits on the valves have been observed leading to loss of compression and reduction in engine performance.

When contacted, a SIAM official said, “We want a study conducted on the impact of E-10 on all vehicles, specifically older vehicles.”

In such a scenario, the automobile industry has contended that the roadmap for the introduction of E-10 and higher blends to be introduced should be undertaken after Automotive Research Association of India study on the impact of E-10 is concluded. At the same time, sustained supply of E-10 in the entire country throughout the country has to be ensured since otherwise frequent tuning of the engine would be required.

The oil industry said it was not possible to have separate tanks and dispensing units at retail outlets for 5 and 10 per cent ethanol blended petrol. There have also been complaints from certain dealers regarding high evaporation losses in their storage tanks due to blending of ethanol.

Excise formalities by state governments were cumbersome and require constant follow-up to obtain permits and licences, it was pointed out.

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