PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF BIOFUEL PRODUCTION IN INDIA
ASHWINI KUMAR AND NEETU VIJAY
Bio-Technology Lab, Department of Botany
University of Rajasthan, Jaipur - 302 004
Energy Plantation Demonstration project and Biotechnology Center.
ABSTRACT : The biofuel production in India is in the developing stage , the work was initiated by Kumar in 1980 at University of Rajasthan; NBRI, Lucknow; Biomass Rersearch Centre , Madurai; CMCRI, Bhavnagar; Garhwal University, Srinagar; IIT Kharagpur and Delhi. In India biomass in the form of forest wood cut legally and illegally with the primary source of fuel for around 700 million people which live in villages. This is leading to large scale deforestation. The present paper provides a scheme of the developing biofuel resources on a sustainable bases.
1.1 Biomass currently supplies about a third of the developing countries’ energy varying from about 90% in countries like Uganda, Rawanda and Tanzania, to 45 percent in India, 30 percent in China and Brazil and 10-15 percent in Mexico and South Africa. The crucial questions are whether the two billion or more people who are now dependent on biomass for energy will increase. The fact that 90 percent of the worlds population will reside in developing countries by about 2050 probably implies that biomass energy will e with us forever.
1.2 The total forest area of the world estimated , was about 7000 m ha . By 1975 it was reduced to 2890 m ha and by 2000 it was around 2370 m ha. The reduction in the temperate region would be only 0.6% while in tropics and subtropics it would be of the order of 40.2% while in the later region the maximum reduction expected would be 50% in Asia and Pacific. This trend is indeed ominous being the direct result of population explosion . The forest cover in India has been reduced from 36% in 1947 to 10% in 1992. With the present rate of depletion of 1.3m ha/year, the forest in India is the totally wiped out in next 10 years.
1.3 Tropical deforestation is currently a significant environment and development issue. At the global level, according to recent estimates by FAO the annual tropical deforestation rate for the decade 1981 to 1990 was about 15.4 million h (Mha) . According to the latest data published in 1994, for the assessment period 1989-1991, the total area under forests is 64.01 Mha accounting for 19.5 percent of India’s geographic area .
1.4 At present there is hardly 0.4 percent forest below 25cm rainfall zone and 1.3 percent above 30 cm rainfall zone. There is rapid depletion of forest products and in order to provide alternative energy sources a change is needed in conventional forestry management.
Around 700 million people constitute the rural population in India which depends on biomass resources for the energy needs. The fire wood is obtained from the forest which are not replanted resulting in wide spread desertification.
1.5 Since the annual photosynthetic production of biomass is about eight times the world’s total energy use and this energy can be produced and used in an environmentally sustainable manner, while emitting net CO2, there can be little doubt that this potential source of stored energy must be carefully considered in any discussion of present and future energy supplies. The fact that nearly 90 percent of the worlds population will reside in developing countries by a bout 2050 probably implies that biomass energy will be with us forever unless there are drastic changes in the world energy trading pattern.
1.6 Planting of more trees in forest reserves for reducing global warming has been universally accepted, the idea being that carbon-dioxide absorption would continue until the trees mature say for 40 to 100 years. Although it is recognized that this is not a permanent solution this “carbon sequestration” strategy buy time to develop alternative energy sources.
1.7 Selection of plants species for replanting plays a major role in development of bio-fuel resources. An integrated approach is needed to colonize wastelands for the production of bio-fuels. A three tier system has been develop consisting of energy plantation with :-
(I) Short rotation trees-
Acacia tortilis (Forsk) Hayne.
Albizia lebbeck (L)Willd.
Acacia nilotica (L) Del.
Prosopis cinerraria (L) Druce.
Cassia siamea Lam.
Holoptelia integrifolia (Roxb.) Planch.
Acacia leucophloea (Roxb.) Willd.
(II) Hydrocarbon Yielding Plants :
Euphorbia lathyris Linn
Euphorbia triculli Linn
Euphorbia antisyphilitica Zucc
Euphorbia caudicifolia Haines
Euphorbia nerifolia Linn
Pedilanthus tithymaloides Linn
Calotropis procera (Ait) R. Br.
Calotropis gigantea (Ait) R.Br.
(III) Non edible oil yielding plants :
Jatropha curcas L.
Simmondsia chinensis (Link) schneid.
Pongamia pinnata (L) Pieerre
(IV) High molecular weight hydrocarbon yielding plant:
Parthenium arginatum linn.
1.8 Potential use of hydrocarbon yielding plants in obtaining biofuel was introduced by . The hydrocarbons from Euphorbia are primarily a blend of C15, C20, C30 compounds. When subjected to catalytic cracking biocrude yields various products virtually identical to those obtained by cracking nephtha, a high quality petroleum fraction, that is one of the principal raw material used in chemical industries . Latex rich in hydro carbon is abundantly found in plants belong to families Euphorbiaceae, Aclepiadaceae, Sapotaceae, Apocynaceae, Urticaceae and Convolvulaceae. In addition to this DBT, Govt. of India is making a special efforts to obtain ethanol, methanol and their ethyl or methyl esters from agriwaste , rotten fruits and vegetables and biomass residues. Calotropis procera which contain 38% cellulose is a potential biomass source for providing ethanol. After the initial chemical hydrolysis the enzymatic treatment result in production of ethanol.
2.1 An analysis of the distribution of the different major energy forms in rural India reveals that out of 11.42x1014 Kg/cl, the share of non-commercial energy is 65% human and animal energy 15% and commercial energy 20%, thus 80% rural energy is met from traditional sources. The following is the order of priority for energy in the rural sector: cooking (64%), agriculture (22%), village industries (7%), lighting (4%), and transportation (3%) .
2.2 In the rural areas firewood constitutes the major source of fuel (68.5%) followed by oil products (16.9%), animal dung (8.3%) coal (2.3%) electricity (0.6%) and others (3.4%).
Recent shortage of kerosene combined with its skyrocketting prices have resulted in the increased use of firewood as a substitute fuel for urban and rural communities.
2.3 The following six options for the biomass utilization in India are available-
Thermal Power generation
Pyrolysis of wood for charcoal
Gasification of wood for producer gas or synthetic gasoline
Carbonification of wood wastes and subsequent briquetting of saw dust, and
Hydrolysios of wood for ethenol (chemical or enzymatic process)
However there is considerable gap in the total demand versus availability as per the table given below-
Estimated Biomass for Energy Conservation:
Source Animal dung Crop residue Fruit & vegetable Fire wood Community Waste
(Million tonne) 860 450 35 600 150
Availability for energy Million tonne) 430 150 10 100 50
2.4 India with its vast expanse of wasteland unsuitable for agricultural production (nearly 180 million ha) could be considered for economically viable production of biofuels. With the cheap labour available in rural sector the limitation of adequately supply of water could be another factor. Almost 3 cattles per head offers formidable force of biomass consumers to combat with available ordinary means. The options are limited under these conditions to search and study the vast number of unexplored plant species as out of 260000 plant species only 10,000 or so have been exploited during the course of human civilization.
2.5 Wood is a solid waste with a relatively low energy density . In Hawain, giant varities grow very fast and attain a height of 10 m with a average diameter of 37 cm in about 4 years.
2.6 There is about 198 m ha degraded land which is unsuitable for commercial cropping. Timber and firewood production from such land can be of
2.7 great value for nations was well as for the citizens owing such degraded lands.
Land use pattern in India
S. No. Classification Area
mha %age of total area
1. Total geographical area 328.8 100.0
2. Total land area 304.7 92.7
3. Area not Available for cultivation 39.3 12.0
4. Forests 67.4 10.0
5. Wastelands 198 63.3
6. Total cultivated area 175.2 122.6
7. Net Irrigated area 38.0 26.6
2.7 The evaluation of biomass potential has to be carried out on a regional level. This must consider the entire production chain of the various biomass use paths from primary production to waste, including the treatment stages, transport, waste treatment and disposal. The results may greatly differ depending on natural as well economic variables : Climatic geomorphology, the regional structure of agriculture, forestry, and the biomass using sector of the economy.
2.8 Some examples for biomass which currently is used only partially or not at all are residues of sugar cane (potential use : biogas), dung and overstood fodder in agriculture (pot post) separately collected organic wastes (production of biogas instead of compost) saw dust and other residues from saw mills and the timber industry (combustion in small cogeneration plants or district heating system). Of course, many of these possibilities are used to some extent today but there ap
2.9 pears to be no consistent policy for the optimization of these uses. Such investigations may also reveal the necessity to change production processes at an earlier stage of the biomass utilization chain.
2.9 Laticiferous plants with their rich hydrocarbon contents offer such potential plant systems which on one hand, due to their water conversion ability they thrive on limited amount of water, produce sufficient biomass and are unpalatable to the cattle folk due to their sticky latex. Degraded and denunded soils are no hindrance to their growth.
2.10 Some years ago there is considerable interest in subabool (Leucaena leucocephala) in India which is able to grow on marginal and submarginal denuded waste rocky and uncultivated wastelands. The improved varieties of subabool could provide 75 tone. ha-1 of biomass which is finally 7,000- 10,000 trees. ha-1.
2.11 According to the report of fuel-wood study committee 1982 the total requirement of fuelwood calculated is approximately 133 mha.annum-1 whereas annual availability is only about 49 mha.annum-1.
2.12 As a consequence to this inadequate supply of fuel, the burning of agricultural residue and animal dung interrupts the nutrient cycle and restoration of soil erosion, flood situation and desertification are increasing day by day.
3.1 Biofuel production in India depends on selection of plant species based on agroclimatic zones and its cultivation techniques. Authors have developed agro-technology for large scale cultivation of bio-energy plantation.
1. Kotiya, A. and A. Kumar. 2000. Biomass characteristion during the process of wasteland colonization in semiarid condition. In : 1st world conference on biomass for energy and Industry. Proceeding of the conference held in Sevilla, (eds. S. Kyrisis, A.A.C.M. Beenackers, P. Helm, A. Grassi and D. Chiaramonti). Spain. James and James, Science Publishers, Ltd. U.K. 311-314.
2. Anonnymous (1995). Alternative fuels. Concave report, No. 4, pp. 200-201
3 Nielson, P.E., Nishimura, H., Liang, Y. and Calvin, M. (1979). Steroids from Euphorbia and other latex bearing plants. Phytochemistry, 18 : 103-104.
4 Calvin, M. (1984). Renewable fuels for future. J.
Appl. Biochem. 6:3-18.
5 Vimal O.P. and Tyagi P.D. (1988). Bioenergy spectrum. Bioenergy and wasteland Development Organization and Publication, Indian Institute of Technology New Delhi, pp. 91-94.