Rapid population growth in India and increased need for energy security, are forcing us to develop Bio-fuels as alternative energy sources to prevent huge imports of oils by India, from other countries.
Among various classifications, there are three main types of Bio-fuels i.e. Solid Bio-fuels, Bio gas and Liquid Bio-fuels, out of which our main focus should be initially on Liquid Bio-fuels. Throughout the world, major focus is now for development of Bio-alcohols, Bio-diesels and Green diesels as Liquid Bio-fuels.
Developing sustainable Bio-fuels throughout the world has become a great challenge to Engineers, Industrialists, Educationists and Scientists of the relevant field. There are various environmental, social, economic and technical issues for development, production and use of Bio-fuels. With Bio-fuel research and development, debates have started regarding the impact of Bio-fuel production on land use, soil erosion, food prices, water resources and emissions of green house gases such as Carbon Di-oxide, Carbon Monoxide, Sulphur Dioxide etc.
Bio-diesel and Ethanol are produced as liquid Bio-fuels from many conventional food crops. Engineers, Scientists and Educationists have to accept challenges to ensure that there is no direct crisis created regarding availability of foods to human beings and animals, while developing Bio-fuel Technologies for practical use and commercialization.
The rise of food prices even up to 20% in some countries where major breakthrough has been made for Bio-fuel production is becoming a great cause for worry and its effect on economy. Use of more water and land for production of Bio-fuel crops in large scale are also causing some difficulties. The impact on climate, energy security, eco systems, environment as whole need to be assessed and an acceptable balance is required. Sustainable Bio-fuel is, therefore, a need of the hour. Accordingly, the topic selected by Mechanical Engineering Department for today’s Seminar is highly appropriate and appreciable.
For more useful research in India, a database is required where various latest information on oil economy, list of Bio-fuel crops and their yields, energy forestry, ecological sanitation, energy output of Bio-fuels, list of emerging technologies, list of Bio-fuel companies and research organizations etc. should be available and the data should be regularly updated. We need to take a useful policy and effort in this direction.
The European Union and USA have already developed and adopted standards to promote sustainable Bio-fuel production and use. The U.S. Renewable Fuel standard (RFS) and California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) are already available, but these standards still require further optimization and improvement. A well planned policy and adoption of standards to promote and develop sustainable Bio-fuels are required. India should adopt its own standard applicable in our country.
With dedicated research activities and innovations, days are not very far when sustainable Bio-fuels will offer the prospect of healthy supply of alternative energy with oil price moderation in India. Let us make a serious beginning in this regard.
Prof. (Dr.) N.K.Kole, India