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New Delhi: Work is in progress to set up coal-to-methanol plants across the country using indigenous technology, which is being developed by Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Hyderabad and Trichy), Thermax, and IIT Delhi, said petroleum and natural gas minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

Speaking to the media persons in Guwahati, where he inaugurated the demo-run of the inland water vessel powered by methanol blended diesel (MD15), the minister said, “In Assam, Assam Petrochemical Limited (APL), Namrup currently produces about 100 TPD of methanol and is implementing a new project for production of 500 TPD of Methanol."

The low-carbon boat ride was done on a 50-seater motor launch marine vessel named ‘SB Gangadhar’ by Puri and Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Rameshwar Teli.

Methanol is a cost-effective alternative marine fuel, less expensive than other marine fuels and is economical in terms of developing shoreside storage and bunkering infrastructure, Puri said at the event, organised as a part of the run-up to the India Energy Week 2023 (IEW 2023) to be held in Bengaluru from February 6 to 8, 2023.

NITI Aayog’s ‘Methanol Economy’ programme is aimed at reducing the country’s oil import bill, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and converting coal reserves and municipal solid waste into methanol.

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.

Blending of 15% methanol in gasoline can result in at least a 15%t reduction in the import of gasoline/crude oil.

In addition, this would bring down GHG emissions by 20% in terms of particulate matter, thereby improving the urban air quality.

Methanol is a low-carbon hydrogen carrier fuel produced from high ash coal, agricultural residue, CO2 from thermal power plants and natural gas.

Although slightly lower in energy content than petrol and diesel, methanol can replace both these fuels in the transport sector (road, rail and marine), the energy sector (comprising DG sets, boilers, process heating modules, tractors, and commercial vehicles) and retail cooking.

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