Within the next two years, the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) will build a “demo plant” to convert ethanol into biogas that may be used to power airplanes.
The ‘alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel plant will also utilise grey hydrogen from its refinery to make ethanol.
Dr SSV Ramakumar, IOC’s Director (R&D and Business Development), recently revealed this during a press conference in Chennai. He said this in answer to a query on what the refiner plans to do with the grey hydrogen produced by its refineries when the company switches to green hydrogen.
When the CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) emission standards take effect in 2027, there will be a lot of demand for biogas for aviation.
In addition, when the Indian government’s rule for blending “20 percent” ethanol with gasoline takes effect in 2025, demand for ethanol would skyrocket.
The demand for ethanol, according to Ramakumar, would be around 1,000 crore litres. India now generates 350 million litres of petrol. As a result, there is a significant deficit of 650 crore litres that requires more manufacturing capacity.
In the meanwhile, IOC wants to conduct a “no damage” test on a pipeline to determine whether steel metallurgy can resist a certain amount of hydrogen without being embrittled.
IOC has been asked by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to conduct such a test. “We’ll conduct the no-harm test as soon as possible and submit the results to the Ministry,” Ramakumar added.
Hydrogen can be carried in (at least part of) the existing pipelines if the no-harm test is positive. “The most economically viable mode of delivering hydrogen is through pipelines,” Ramakumar said.