Unlike gasoline, Ethanol or pure Ethanol is a non-toxic and biodegradable source that quickly breaks down into substances that are harmless. However, there have been some debates over the use of Ethanol as a biofuel and the implementation of the EBP program.
Let’s further discuss this topic in detail to know the real concerns.
What Is Ethanol Blended Program?
Ethanol used for blending program is also known as anhydrous ethyl alcohol. It can be produced from various sugary feedstocks like grains, sugarcane, etc. Ethanol molecule contains oxygen, which facilitates the engine to combust the fuel completely. This subsequently helps in reducing the emissions and thereby the environmental pollution. Due to its renewable properties, the Ethanol Blended Petrol Program was launched by the Government of India. The Ethanol Blended Program (EBP) was established in 2003 January with a main motive to promote the use of this alternative and renewable friendly fuel. The vision of this program was to reduce the import burden and dependency of energy requirements on fossil fuels.
In 2003, the Ethanol Blended Program was launched in 9 states: Gujarat, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Four union territories were also introduced to the EBP program. Now, this program has been expanded to over 20 states and four union territories overall. The government is now planning to extend the Ethanol Blended Program to 10% Blend by 2022 and almost 20% Blend by 2030.
Concerns Over Ethanol Blended Program
The initiation of this program also brought up some concerns. There were studies where it was seen that the use of Ethanol as a gasoline or petrol additive may cause some environmental issues, especially when it comes to air pollution. Besides this, there have been issues with the compatible vehicles as well. The union government has also emphasised that increased use of Ethanol will not only help in reducing the oil bill, but it will also require doubling the growing of sugarcane crop that would require their substantial resources and efforts.
Environmental Impacts Due to Ethanol Blended Program
When there is an increase in the ethanol content in fuels, it reduces the emissions of some major regulated pollutants from the environment, such as HC, CO2, CO. All these major pollutants constitute a significant concern that are harmful to the environment.. Besides, the addition of Ethanol, which is high in octane, also helps in reducing the aromatics in petrol. This means that the petrol that will burn will have cleaner evaporative emissions from the fuel tanks.
In many European countries, the Ethanol Blended Program was passed as a measure to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses that are caused by road transport. Greenhouse gases have always been a major source of concern for the environment.
One of the other beneficial impacts of the Ethanol Blended Program is reducing the dependency on Fossil Fuels that directly or indirectly helps the environment. As we all know, Ethanol can be produced domestically from grown crops, and it will help in reducing the dependency on foreign fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. According to a research study from NITI AYOG, Ethanol as a biofuel offers equivalent efficiency at a lower cost than petrol.
In addition to that, Ethanol as a blended fuel also impacts the engine’s fuel efficiency. There will be a significant drop in the dependency on fuel efficiency that will help in reducing the overall hydrocarbon and nitrous oxides emissions that flow out from typical vehicles used in the country.
Although there have been major studies that show that the Ethanol Blended Program is beneficial for air pollution, some studies also show that it may increase photochemical smog production. The compound photochemical smog has some of the most devastating effects on the environment. This type of smog can decimate many sensitive crops like tomato, tobacco, spinach, trees, and other vegetation. This way, Ethanol as a gasoline additive will have a significantly harsh impact on the diversity of our environment.
Therefore, research studies are still processing the pros and cons of the Ethanol Blended Program for the environment. However, overall impact of Ethanol as a biofuel is quite beneficial for the environment.
Summary: Ethanol as a Fuel is Better for the Environment
While summarizing, we can say that Ethanol is one of the resources that is considered as a good replacement for the environment than traditional gasoline or other fuels. With the help of blended fuel, vehicles will produce less carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide that will help in cleaning the overall environment. Besides that, the Ethanol blended fuel contains fewer volatile components, which means there will also be fewer gas emissions from the evaporation of the fuel. Ultimately, the Ethanol Blended Program can replace the necessity for environment sensitivity fossil fuels that are quite limited in their presence.