In an environment-friendly move, the country's first 100 percent methanol-powered prototype truck was unveiled by Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari in Bengaluru on March 12.
Calling the development a giant leap in methanol economy being piloted in BMTC buses and Ashok Leyland trucks, NITI Aayog, in a statement said it is a joint initiative by Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Ashok Leyland and Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
“The 10-tonne prototype truck has been built for drivability assessment and durability trials. A detailed development work involving fine tuning the vehicle performance, engine and vehicle durability will be done in the coming months” said a statement from NITI Aayog. The release claimed that it is India’s first and world's second 100 percent methanol (M100) prototype truck.
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The technology of converting diesel, petrol and CNG engines into operating on 100 percent methanol (M100) is an initiative under a developmental programme undertaken by the NITI Aayog along with Ashok Leyland and IISc with financial assistance from the department of science and technology. “The prototype truck will shortly be launched as a market offering and thus creating a revolution in replacing diesel in the logistics sector," NITI Aayog said.
Separately, Gadkari launched 10 MD15 (15 percent blending of methanol with diesel) BMTC buses. “Under the aegis of NITI Aayog, IOC and ARAI Pune, it was decided that field trials will be conducted in three cities with 20 transport buses for a period of three months. BMTC agreed and granted permission to Ashok Leyland to carry out field trials in Bengaluru as the first national pilot programme for methanol diesel bus," it said.
After three months, a report will be submitted by NITI Aayog to the Union ministry of road transport & Highways and Union ministry of petroleum and natural gas for the commercial implementation.
“MD15 fuel was tested on Ashok Leyland diesel engines for performance and emissions. MD15 fuel is meeting all legal emission limits. Also, a substantial PM, HC and CO reduction achieved during the trials. This also provides improvement in CO2 emissions and also reduces pollution on parameters of particulate matter, SOX and NOX by 20 percent. The blended fuel is cheaper than diesel which will result in operational savings to transport corporations. MD15 can be adopted by diesel vehicles without any vehicular or any nature of modification and can be used as a direct substitution of diesel."
Further, it stated: “Methanol domestically and internationally is available in scalable quantities to replace diesel to the tune of 15 percent, which will result in substantial lowering in energy bill to the country".
In 2016, NITI Aayog prepared a road map for Methanol Economy in India and a committee led by Dr VK Saraswat to assess the total potential of methanol as an alternative fuel to diesel, petrol and LPG. The committee stated that close to 20 percent of replacement of crude as India’s energy mix is possible by adopting methanol as a clean, cost effective and a renewable alternative fuel.
Methanol as a renewable fuel produced from sources like CO2 and biomass. Countries like the US, China, Israel, Australia, Egypt and many other European countries have extensively adopted methanol in the transport sector, the statement added.