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Gujarat firm first to commercialise bio-diesel
Prashant Rupera, TIMES NEWS NETWORK (31 JUL 2004 10:39:06 PM)

ANKLESHWAR, INDIA: A new chapter to the country's alternative energy resources was added on Saturday after Ankleshwar-based firm released the first commercial consignment of bio-diesel to Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). With this, the firm, Gujarat Oelo Chem Limited (GOCL) will be the first Indian company to commercialise the production of bio-diesel from vegetable based feedstock.

IOC had placed an order of 450 kilolitres of bio-diesel with GOCL last year for field trials with the Indian Railways and Haryana roadways. In fact, the IOC's only crop cultivation project of jetropha seeds for its project with the Indian Railways is in Surendranagar district of Gujarat. The Railways had agreed to provide wasteland to IOC for the crop cultivation under a MoU, while the IOC had agreed to produce alternate fuel for the former.

This comes after the Sierra Railroad at California planned to convert 1,500 locos on bio-diesel to meet international pollution norms. They also found that 26 to 37 per cent less emissions were recorded during its usage. At Haryana, IOC is running 20 buses since April on 5 per cent biodiesel and diesel blends.

After the consignment was flagged off, IOC's R&D director N Raje said, The total wasteland in the country estimated at 30 million hectares, which can be used for cultivation of bio-diesel seeds and provide employment to around 15 million people. Bio-diesel can additionally replace the current use of fossil fuels. The country's annual oil bill is around Rs 60,400 crore (during 2002-03) and wasteland development would require only about Rs 1,000 crore a year for 20 years to make the country self sufficient in oil. Diesel forms nearly 40 per cent (40 million tonnes) of total energy consumed in the form of oil, which can be replaced or supplemented by bio-diesel."

Raje added that even if 5 per cent of bio-diesel is blended with normal diesel, it can cut down import cost of fuel considerably. It also helps in cutting down cost of pollution-control measures. "Bio-diesel has in-built oxygen, which burns down the fuel completely and does not pollute the environment. The demand is abundant. The IOC will be able to supplement 5 per cent of diesel with bio-diesel in three years. However, the percentage of biodiesel can also be increased further with proper planning."

Gujarat chief secretary P K Laheri, who flagged off the consignments, said, "The government is supporting increase of 'jatropha , 'jajoba ' and 'karanjia' plants cultivation to increase utilisation of renewable sources of energy in the state."

GOCL executive director Sandip Chaturvedi said, "The company has achieved a milestone by producing and commercialising bio-diesel. The IOC has already shown further interest in our project. Many other private players too are showing interest and may place orders."

Experts added that the United States and the European Union have successfully started utilising biodiesel in their army, navy, air force and Marines. They are also using bio-diesel in various equipment, buses, tractors and motor graters.

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