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World's first flex fuel car will launch in India today: Why this matters

Aa new 100% ethanol-fueled variant of Toyota's Innova will launch today and it will run on 100 per cent ethanol.

Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

BS Web Team New Delhi

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Union Minister Nitin Gadkari will launch the world's first BS-VI (Stage-II), electric flex-fuel vehicle in India today in a push to using alternative fuels like hydrogen, flex-fuel, biofuel et and decrease the country's dependency on traditional fuel sources.

 Aa new 100% ethanol-fueled variant of Toyota's Innova will launch today and it will run on 100 per cent ethanol. The car will be the world's first BS-VI (Stage-II), electrified flex-fuel vehicle.  It would also generate 40 percent electricit, thereby bringing the effective price of ethanol much lower.

In 2022 Gadkari had launched a hydrogen-powered car, the Toyota Mirai EV. The car was launched as a pilot project aimed at creating a Green Hydrogen based ecosystem in India by creating awareness about the utility of Green Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) technology.

The move towards biofuels aims to significantly reduce the enormous amount spent on petroleum imports (Rs 16 lakh crore) and promote India's self-reliance in energy.
"We have taken a lot of (sustainability) initiatives but we need to take more because pollution is a problem. Ecology and the environment are very important. We need to reduce air and water pollution. We have to improve the quality of water in our rivers. This is a big challenge. We need to protect our ecology and environment," said Gadkari.

How Do Flexible Fuel Cars Work Using Ethanol?
Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) have an internal combustion engine and are capable of operating on gasoline and any blend of gasoline and ethanol up to 83%.

E85 is the official name for flex-fuel. It has 85 percent ethanol fuel and 15 percent gasoline or other hydrocarbon by volume.

 Bio-ethanol contains less energy per litre than petrol but the calorific value (energy contained in the fuel) of bio-ethanol will become on par with petrol with use of advanced technology. 

Since an FFV is capable of running on either petrol or ethanol, it will be the first of its kind 100 per cent dual fuel vehicle to be running on Indian roads.

Ethanol is a by-product of the sugar production process and can be an excellent substitute for petrol as a fuel mix. Ethanol is more affordable than petrol, as it can be produced domestically from crops, unlike crude oil, which needs to be imported.Several carmakers in India are shifting towards ethanol-blended fuel as part of their efforts to reduce emissions and comply with government regulations. Some of the leading car manufacturers in India who have already announced their plans to transition to ethanol-blended fuel include Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Toyota, Honda and Mahindra and Mahindra.
Though India has been rolling out initiatives in almost all other alternative energy technologies, reducing vehicular emissions has become one of the most urgent targets for the country in recent times. The focus has thus been shifted to the endorsement of hydrogen and electric vehicles.

 Using ethanol-blended fuel can help reduce our carbon footprint and create a cleaner, healthier environment for future generations. Ethanol-blended petrol has significantly reduced emissions of harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides.

Moreover,  Ethanol from sugarcane and corn can be produced domestically, reducing India's dependence on imported crude oil. 

Flex fuel engines are already popular in Brazil, the United States, European Union and China among many others.

India is the fifth largest manufacturer of ethanol following the US, Brazil, the European Union and China.

In flex fuels, the ratio of ethanol to petrol can be adjusted but the most commonly used flex-fuel use 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent petrol. Unlike petrol, ethanol is not a byproduct of crude oil. Instead, it is a complex derivative of biomass left by agricultural feedstocks such as corn, sugarcane, hemp (bhang), potato, and rice among many other things.

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First Published: Aug 29 2023 | 11:16 AM IST

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