India’s proper reform minister Nitin Gadkari is on a spree. The Union Road Transport and Highways minister on Monday announced that his ministry is going to issue an order directing carmakers to introduce Flex-fuel, or flexible fuel, engines.
Gadkari said, “To reduce import of fossil fuels, I am going to sign a file in the next 2-3 days, in which carmakers will be asked to make flex-fuel engines vehicles (that can run on more than one fuel),”
Flex-fuel engines included in PLI scheme
It is pertinent to note that riding on the success of the Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) for different sectors, the government introduced one for the automotive sector.
As a result, wasting no time, Gadkari has included the flex-fuel engines in the list of advanced Automotive Technology components as eligible products for incentivization under the scheme.
Reportedly, the components under the PLI scheme include BS6 compliant (E 85) Flex-Fuel Engine, Heated Fuel Rail for Flex-Fuel Engine, Heating Element for Flex-Fuel Engine, Heating Control Unit for Flex-Fuel Engine, Electronic Control Unit (ECU) for Flex-Fuel Engine (Processor minimum 32 bits) and Ethanol Sensor for Flex Fuel Engine.
Talking about the rising petroleum bill, Gadkari stated that India imports petroleum products worth Rs 8 lakh crore every year, and if the country continues to depend on fossil fuels, then its import bill will rise to Rs 25 lakh in the next five years.
According to Gadkari, big Multinational auto giants like Toyota Motor Corporation, Suzuki and Hyundai Motor India have already assured him that they will introduce flex engines in their vehicles.
What is a flex-fuel engine?
With the global climate taking a turn for the wrong due to global warming, it becomes important that one looks for an alternative. A flex-fuel engine is not much different from conventional engines.
An everyday vehicle requires an internal combustion engine and fuel to operate. The fundamentals remain the same in the Flex fuel engine. However, instead of just petrol or diesel, the flex-fuel engine-based vehicles use a blend of gasoline and ethanol.
In a good flex-fuel vehicle, up to 83 percent ethanol can be mixed with petrol, which is a global standard. For the uninitiated, Ethanol is a kind of alcohol with more than 99 percent purity. It is a renewable fuel that is essentially a by-product of sugarcane but can also be made from grains.
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Gadkari had earlier remarked that the government is providing export subsidies to the tune of Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000 crore to sugar mills for liquidating surplus sugar stocks. The government wants to take the current ethanol economy from Rs 20,000 crores to Rs 2 lakh crores.
In India, the blending percentage of ethanol with petrol has gone up from 1.53 percent in 2013-14 to 8.5 percent in 2020-21. The country has set a target of 20 percent ethanol-blending with petrol by 2023-24. And the ultimate goal is to have 100 percent ethanol-run vehicles.
However, with Gadkari overseeing the development and given his track record of achieving the miraculous, it wouldn’t be a hyperbole to suggest that the target, much like the non-fossil fuel power generation target will be achieved before the deadline.