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Bio-CNG as fuel in commercial vehicles to be tested in India

According to reports, city-based the Automotive Research Association of India will test the  bio-CNG produced from bagasse and its use in operating a commercial vehicle, following instructions from the Union ministry for new and renewable energy (MNRE).

Hyderabad-based Spectrum Renewable Energy Private Ltd will provide the bio-CNG and an engine of a commercial vehicle for detailed testing. This will include testing of emission levels, engine performance under different conditions and technical challenges, if any.

Mohan Rao, chairman and chief executive officer of the company, told TOI: “The production of bio-CNG would start in the next 40 days and we will provide cylinders of CNG and an engine to Automotive Research for testing. The primary tests have shown sufficient generation of bio-CNG, which is cost-effective. If this fuel meets requirements, then we will certainly go for commercial production of bio-CNG.”

The test is significant as for the first time compressed natural gas (CNG) is produced from bagasse of sugar factory. City-based Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) has helped in extracting methane from biogas and further converting biogas into CNG, which is used as fuel in New Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. The ministry has asked Warna Group and Spectrum to get proper permissions and launch the project. The ministry has asked for tests to estimate production and conversion costs, fuel efficiency and money saved if vehicles run on bio-CNG than conventional fuel like petrol and diesel. The primary report was positive.

The first pilot project is set up at Warnanagar near Kolhapur. The Warna cooperative sugar factory and Spectrum Renewable have joined hands for this project.

Sources at the ARI said, “Compared to CNG, methane content in biogas is around 54 to 60% while remaining gases are carbon dioxide and hydrogen disulphide. Once these two gases are reduced, the methane content goes up and we get CNG, where methane share is 93 to 95%. The source of methane is different; hence it is called bio-CNG.”

Rao said, “The total investment in the project is Rs 30 crore, of which 30% is the cost of the German technology and the machinery, which was imported. The company had to make changes to make it suitable for India. Press-mud from Warna group will be processed and bio-CNG would be produced. It will be used by Warna group for running their vehicles.”

As per the current production figures, 9,200 kg of bio-CNG can be recovered from 12,000 cubic meter of biogas. “Once we get a nod from the Union ministry, production will be ramped up, Rao added.

Sources from Kolhapur-based Warna Group said, “Apart from being a cooperative sugar factory, we are also into dairy and dairy products business, with a big fleet of vehicles. If the bio-CNG works out, the cost on fuel will be saved. Commercial production could be the next step. We are waiting for the results.”

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