The Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Chemical & Fertilizers, Mansukh L Mandaviya, recently informed the Lok Sabha that NITI Aayog has set up an apex committee and five task forces for carrying out R&D and developing roadmap for implementing methanol economy in India.
India imported 212.7 million tonnes of crude oil in 2016-2017. It is estimated that a 15% methanol blending can result in replacement of around 31.9 million tonnes of crude oil, resulting in significant savings for India. Further the CO and HC emission reduction for M 15 as compared to neat gasoline by approximate 40% is an added benefit. Further CO2 and evaporative emission benefits are also envisaged. World's largest coal miner, Coal India Ltd (CIL), is likely to set up a coal-based methanol plant in West Bengal.
There is excessive ash content at several coal mines, which are not in much demand amongst the coal-based power plants. Coal with high ash content can be converted into methanol and can be used for cooking gas purpose as methanol is substitute for LPG.
We import 60 per cent of our LPG needs and we can save billions of dollars by converting high ash coal into methanol and use it for cooking gas purpose. According to the latest estimate, methanol production could cut India's 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 thechemco.com, methanol is a liquid chemical with the formula CH3OH (often abbreviated MeOH). It is colourless, volatile, flammable, and poisonous. Methanol is made from the destructive distillation of wood and is chiefly synthesized from carbon monoxide and hydrogen.
Its principal uses are in organic synthesis, as a fuel, solvent, and antifreeze. Methanol is a polar liquid at room temperature. It is used as antifreeze, solvent, fuel, and as a denaturant for ethanol. The chemical is also used to produce biodiesel via transesterification reaction.