Ethanol Blending

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Relevance:

GS-3 Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment, Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Ethanol Blending – cabinet decision 

  • An increase in the price of ethanol to be procured by public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) from sugar mills for blending with petrol for the 2019-20 supply year from December 2019
  • CCEA has allowed the conversion of old sugar into ethanol. 
  • The CCEA has also approved the use of sugar and sugar syrup for the production of ethanol; mills can simply add these to the molasses mother liquor for further fermentation.
  • According to the new decision, the price of ethanol from C-heavy molasses and B-heavy molasses will be increased.
  • The price of ethanol from sugarcane juice, sugar, and sugar syrup has been increased 

How is ethanol produced?

  • Ethanol is produced mainly from molasses, a byproduct of the sugar manufacturing process.
  • Mills crush cane with a total fermentable sugars (TFS) content of about 14%. 
  • Much of this TFS — sucrose plus glucose and fructose — gets crystallized into sugar. 
  • The un-crystallized, non-recoverable part goes into what is called ‘C’ molasses.
  • When the cane juice does not have to be crystallized right till the final ‘C’ molasses stage, the molasses can be diverted after the earlier ‘A’ and ‘B’ stages of sugar crystal formation.
  • And in between these extremes mills can produce some sugar and some ethanol. 

What are the likely benefits?

  • If sugar mills convert entire cane juice into ethanol the price realised would be higher than the price realised by producing sugar. 
  • Thus there is a huge incentive to produce ethanol. 
  • There is another incentive in terms of the government mandating a 10% blending of petrol with ethanol.
  • India is producing too much sugar and is importing oil, the ethanol-blending program is beneficial both for mills and for the country’s balance of payments
  • It is expected to help mills deal with the current overproduction in the Sugar and make timely payments to farmers for the cane delivered by them.



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