[Economy] Ethanol Blending in Petrol: meaning, benefits & limitations; Hybrid cars & Intelligent Transport

MrunalEnvironment42 Comments

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  1. What is Ethanol fuel / Gasohol?
  2. Pro-argument for Ethanol Blending?
  3. Anti-argument against Ethanol Blending?
  4. Gasohol system in India and abroad
  5. What is National Automotive Board (NAB)?
  6. What is National Mission for Electric Mobility (NMEM)?
  7. What is a Hybrid vehicle?
  8. What is Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)?
  9. What are the Benefits of ITS?
  10. Mock Questions

What is Ethanol fuel / Gasohol?

  1. When Ethanol is mixed with petrol, such fuel is known as Ethanol Fuel / Gasohol (=Gasoline + Ethanol).
  2. It can be used with no modification to the vehicle’s engine. (if concentration of ethanol is upto 10%)
  3. Almost all vehicles of US and Brazil, use such ethanol fuel.

Pro-arguments for Ethanol Blending

  1. It decreases a nation dependence on foreign oil.
  2. It reduces the carbon monoxide emissions by up to 30 percent.
  3. Cleaner air means healthier people, especially those that suffer from respiratory diseases. Mortality rates will decrease, health care visits will decrease in number and severity, health care costs will decrease, and productivity will improve as absenteeism and performance is improved.
  4. Gasohol is typically cheaper than petrol as it is cheaper to manufacture. (just like adulterated milk minus negative effects on health!)
  5. India is the fourth largest producer of ethanol in the world. By blending petrol with 10 per cent ethanol, 80 million litres of petrol could be saved annually in India.
  6. Ethanol production = Higher sugarcane price = Rural prosperity.
  7. Ethanol blended petrol cleans the car engine over time, by dissolving the harmful deposits and dirt from pipes and chambers.

Anti-arguments against Ethanol Blending

  1. Ethanol is derived from Sugarcane, corn, sorghum. Ethanol blending in petrol, increases the demand and ultimately the price of these crops. + indirectly increase fertilizer, pesticide prices= Food security problem in India.
  2. however not really a problem because Indian Government has proposed only 5% blending, unlike Brazil where it is 25%. Besides, In India, ethanol is mainly derived by sugarcane molasses, which is a by-product in the conversion of sugarcane to sugar. Therefore, ethanol does not compromise on the food security front.)
  3. It is not really Eco-friendly! While growing corn, sugar or shorgum, those plants absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere and then release it when consumed as ethanol (in petrol). So, you might think that ethanol is environmentally neutral.
  4. But a life-cycle analysis claim that when you calculate the the CO2 emissions in plowing, planting, applying fertilizer, harvesting these crops and delivering it to the ethanol plant, producing the ethanol, and distributing it the oil company = it doesn’t remain ‘environmentally neutral’. i.e. more CO2 is produced in making ethanol blend petrol, than the amount of CO2 emittion reduced by using such blended petrol.

Gasohol system in India and abroad

  • India is the second largest sugarcane and sugar producer in the world. (Brazil is 1st)
  • In Brazil, blending is mandatory up to 25 per cent of ethanol with petrol; and pure ethanol can also be used by flexi-fuel cars.
  • Even Pakistan has 10% blending!
  • So, in 2007, Govt of India came up with the idea of making 5% ethanol blending in petrol.

What’s the problem?

  • Ethanol is produced from molasses.
  • Molasses is a by-product in sugar mills.
  • At present, the government has made provision that Oil companies should buy ethanol @ the price not more than 27 per litre, and mix this ethanol with petrol.
  • But, Sugar mills prefer to sell molasses to alcohol manufacturers because it gives them more profit. =less raw material available for ethanol manufacturing.
  • So, if Government wants to implement compulsory 5% blending, then Oil cos would need to import atleast 200 crores of ethanol from abroad, every year.
  • This would disturb the delicate balance of retail petrol pricing (if they can’t import ethanol at reasonable price).


  • In October 2012, PM setup a GoM (Group of Minister) to examine all matters relating to pricing of bioethanol, its blending with petrol.
  • This GoM will be headed by Sharad.
  • Prime Minister has asked the concerned ministers (agri, finance, chemical, petroleum etc) to resolve their differences in the GoM and bring it back with a recommendation to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA.)
  • The CCEA will then
    • Either It’ll make the ethanol blending rules/policy.
    • or It may form another GoM to study the recommendations of this GoM!
Timeline of Ethanol Blending program in India
2007 Government allowed sugar companies to directly produce ethanol from sugarcane juice.
2008 National Policy on Biofuels announced.phased implementation of ethanol blending with petrol.
1st Dec 2012 This was the deadline for starting ethanol blending.
1st July 2013 This is the new deadline for ethanol blending.

Now let’s move to the next topic “Hybrid cars”.

What is National Automotive Board (NAB)?

  • It is a body to facilitate interaction between Government and automobile industry.
  • NAB will act as a thinktank for the Government, especially for the growth of hybrid and electric vehicles in the country.
  • NAB will promote research and Development in auto sector.
  • NAB also help in National Mission for Electric Mobility (NMEM) and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). [Details given in the same article]

Who will be the members of NAB?
Board will have members from the

  1. Planning Commission
  2. Department of
    1. Heavy Industry,
    2. Road Transport and Highways,
    3. Science and Technology,
    4. Environment and Forests.
  3. Scientists and industry representatives.

Where is the money for NAB?

  • Recall the earlier article on Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), that body will be financed via charging 5 rupees per airplane ticket.
  • Similarly this NAB will be financed by putting Cess (Tax on tax) on the Automobile industry.

What is National Mission for Electric Mobility (NMEM)?

  • It provides the roadmap for achieving significant penetration of electric vehicles (including hybrid vehicles) in Indian market by 2020.
  • Department of Heavy Industry (DHI), will be responsible for implementing NMEM

What is a Hybrid car?

  • A hybrid car is uses two or more distinct power sources to move the vehicle.
  • So, if you can design a car that can use solar, hydrogen, petrol, diesel, kerosene and electricity (6 in one) that can also be called a Hybrid car.
  • But Most commonly Hybrid cars use petrol and electricity. Here is an example car: Honda Civic (hybrid)

hybrid car

  • Hybrid cars are more expensive than conventional cars.

What are the advantages of Electric / Hybrid vehicles?

  1. Reduces crude oil consumption and thus decreases current account deficit= rupee strengthened.
  2. It is environmentally sustainable (IF the electricity for such vehicles, is provided via solar/wind power.)
  3. This will decrease CO2 emission by upto 1.5% in 2020= improve quality of life.
  4. Job creation, if new factories are setup.

What is (ITS)?

  • Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) is essentially the application of computer and communications technologies coming to help traffic and transport problems.
  • For example gathering of data through CCTV/Satellite then providing timely feedback to traffic police and road-users. Some examples are
  • Wireless Traffic Control System
  • Intelligent Transit Trip Planner and Realtime Route Information to public via SMS / web portals.
  • Automatic Red Light Violation Detection System using CCTV.
  • These projects are being financed by Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.

What are the Benefits of ITS?

  • improved safety to drivers,
  • better traffic efficiency,
  • reduced traffic congestion,
  • improved energy efficiency
  • Enhanced economic productivity.

Mock Questions

MCQs for CSAT /RBI Grade B
which of the following statements are correct?

  1. Government has setup the National Automotive Board to grant FDI clearance in Automobile sector.
  2. National mission for Electric Mobility aims at integrating the thermal power stations of North and South India into single national electricity grid.

Mock Questions for GS Mains Paper I
1. Examine the Role and responsibility of Automobile sector in combating the climate change. (15 marks)

2. Write short notes on following (50 words, 5 marks)

  1. Reasons for setting up National Automotive Board setup.
  2. What do you understand by Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)?
  3. What is the primary Objective of National Mission for Electric Mobility (NMEM)?
Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

42 Comments on “[Economy] Ethanol Blending in Petrol: meaning, benefits & limitations; Hybrid cars & Intelligent Transport”

  1. I salute you for guiding those aspirants who are especially from rural background and can’t join a expensive coaching.
    Hats off Mrunal Sir!!!!

  2. Hi mrunal sir,what about the optionals in 2013 cse mains exam??there are strong rumors that upsc will remove optionals,pls throw some light on this panicky issue.

    1. Nobody knows better than UPSC so in my opinion its better to wait upto notification of CSE 2013 or any official guidelines from UPSC regd. removal of optionals.
      Its better that everybody should focus on study.
      All the best for IAS

  3. mrunal sir…here i would like to make a correction that at present mr.p chidambaram is the chairman of empowered group of ministries(EGOM).AND it was happen in 7 JULY 2012.he became d 3rd chaire man of EGOM.replacing sharad pawar,who took d place of pranab mukherjee…nd i think u should add the function of EGOM in brief…nd thanks for all ur tremendous support…

  4. Mrunal Sir!
    Ur articles r very useful to us especially for the employees like us who r very busy in the day to day work. Sir, hats off!! to your commitment.

  5. Hai Mr.mrunal I find this site and ur work are really worth remarkable and ur support for aspirants incomparable to anyone u r really an awesome personality.

  6. It has been observed that introduction of biofuels in Brazil lead to steep increase in food prices. It happens because people prefer to cultivate sugarcane leading to less arable area available for other food crops. With so much of our population being below poverty line, it is a trade off between fuel security or food security.

  7. Hi Mrunal, Can i use “Ethanol production = Higher sugarcane price = Rural prosperity” in mains examz too? because everyone is saying we have to answer like Short+Direct+precise manner

    1. For mains answer, you’ll need to use formal English.

      Ethanol production = Higher sugarcane price = Rural prosperity=
      This way of writing, is not recommended in mains.

    2. Due to ethanol production from Sugar Molasses, there will be increase in demand of the sugarcane which will increase its price. This increase in price will give better return to sugarcane farmers.

  8. Sir, I’m unable to find an appropriate word to say thank you for your indescribable contribution towards our preparation.

  9. Thanks for d info mrunal…
    Just wanted to ass 2 things…

    Adding ethanol to fuel oil will change its composition and this will require engine modification to accomodate for the change. So most Indian Engine makers are gonna resist gasohol…

    1. Bhaskar jyoti,
      engine Modification is required only if ethanol content exceeds 10 percent, Refer ‘what is ethanol’ at the beginning of article.

  10. Hi Sir,
    The way you potray the topics and explain them in simple ideas is awesome. Any lay man can understand the ideas or logic of the subject easily. The efforts are higly appreciable.
    On the above subject i believe that the second option is what is certainly going to happen “another GoM to study the recommendations of this GoM” :-)
    Since the day i started my schooling i have been studying that “India is a developing country” and still its the same because of the decisions our illiterate and submissive leaders….

    Nahusha SN

  11. As per 2nd point of anti -argument ,once if we start using the ethanol -blended petrol for the prodn to transport of ethanol ,again it will turn to be environment friendly only..so this also not a problem.

  12. HELLO SIR I HAVE BEEN PREPARING FOR CIVIL SERVICES EXAM FOR 2 YEARS AT HOME, I AM GIVING GOOD RESPONSE TO PRELIMS BUT NOT in MAINS ESPECIALLY IN MAINS, ARE NOTES HELPFUL IN MAINS , WHEN THE PATTERN IS SO DYNAMIC THAT IT DOESN’T COVER CONVENTIONAL PART. I see your column on that but still i am dilemma over it. I am just 20 years of age , and i am contemplating to appear in the exam on 2014. Please sir guide me about that how to crack mains

  13. Sir…It is said that they are not really eco-friendly… then is there any special reason why Brazil adopted this?? And is still trying to implement in Trucks and Buses of Brazil..

  14. respected sir,
    why government has made a provision that oil companies should buy ethanol at less than 27rs/L?

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