Govt to promote methanol as alternative fuel

New Delhi, Dec 19 (PTI) In a bid to lower crude oil import bill, the government will promote coal gasification to convert high ash coal into methanol that can be used as cooking gas and transportation fuels, Niti Aayog member V K Saraswat said today.

He also said that methanol is a good substitute for transportation fuels and cooking fuel and there is a merit in India also looking at methanol economy.

"We can reduce high crude oil import bill, which is pegged at Rs 6 lakh crore per annum by producing methanol from high ash coal.

"...In the rural areas, there are a number of people who still use cow dung, so we want to give methanol stove to them. Methanol gas is always cheap, safe and pollution free," he told reporters here.

The former Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief said the government has proposed using methanol fuels powered boats in inland waterways.

Saraswat also pitched for setting up of Rs 5,000 crore Methanol Economy Fund. He said that the worlds largest coal miner, Coal India Ltd (CIL), will set up a coal-based methanol plant in West Bengal.

Saraswat, who is also chairman of Methanol Committee, is in talks with companies like NTPC and Oil India to encourage methanol economy.

According to the latest estimate, methanol production could cut Indias huge crude oil imports bill, which is pegged at Rs 6 lakh crore per annum. Methanol is a clear and colourless liquid produced from natural gas, coal and wide range of renewable feedstocks. Also known as wood alcohol, methanol is naturally occurring and biodegradable.

India has already introduced blending of petrol with ethanol.

According to the Methanol Institute, USA -- an industry consortium -- China is using 15-20 per cent of its fuel mixed with methanol. PTI BKS MKJ