In a bid to trim down the oil import bill and reduce pollution, the government is in the process of firming up a policy to make aviation fuel from non-edible seeds, said Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, on Wednesday. India imports aviation turbine fuel worth of Rs 300 billion every year, Gadkari told delegates at the 58th Annual Convention of Automotive Component Manufacturers (ACMA).
"The petroleum ministry is firming up a policy to make aviation fuel from non-edible oil seeds so that we are able to reduce imports of ATF," he said.
The move is a part of the big push the government is giving to reduce the import of crude.
Last week, the Petroleum Ministry did a pilot on a Spice Jet flight by blending oil extracted from non-edible seeds from Jatropha for a short distance flight from Delhi to Dehradun. The flight flew on 25% bio-fuel and 75% ATF. The fuel was developed by the Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) in Dehradun.
The minister said that the country had non-edible seeds that could be used for extracting oil in large quantities.
The Petroleum Ministry is also considering the production of first-generation ethanol. "We are surplus in sugar and some countries are asking us to sell it to them at Rs 10 to 11 per kg. We are surplus by 5 to 6 million tonnes. It's going to go up next year and it would pose a challenge in terms of what to do with it", he said.
The government has approved a policy to push molasses production to 6 per cent from 4 per cent, currently. Plans are afoot to convert sugar to molasses. This will bump up the production of ethanol and enable competitive pricing, he added.
"The idea is to make ethanol from sugarcane and not sugar. The parity will be such that producers will be incentivised to make ethanol," he said.
Meanwhile, the Petroleum Ministry has also approved plans of setting up of five bio-ethanol plants that will derive ethanol from rice, wheat, cotton straws and bamboo. "We are also planning to change crop pattern and push the production of corn for
bio-ethanol till we have surplus production of wheat and rice," said Gadkari.