The government of India is examining the potential to allow use of methanol as a marine fuel, which would be a cheaper, cleaner and forex-saving solution compared to diesel, according to Indian Union minister, Nitin Gadkari.
More specifically, Mr Gadkari informed that, during the government’s meeting with veteran scientist and Niti Aayog member, V K Saraswat, it was decided that methanol in shipping could act as import substitute, as well as a cost-reduction and pollution-free solution, according to local media.
As part of the inland waterways project, Mr Saraswat examined a proposal to build 40 bunkers of liquefied natural gas along the river Ganga and suggested methanol as an alternative to LNG, Mr Gadkari said. The study revealed that methanol would cost Rs 20-25, against Rs 60 for a litre of diesel.
As the fuel is derived from coal, switch-over to methanol would benefit the country, that disposes a coal surplus, he said. The fuel can be sourced from fertiliser companies such as RCF and Deepak Fertilisers located in or near Mumbai, one of the biggest maritime trade hubs in the country.
Concluding, Mr Gadkari explained that the conversion of existing diesel engines into methanol ones can be achieved by fitting a kit, similar to the one used to convert petrol or diesel engines into Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) engines.