Second-generation bioethanol: It is time to launch it headlong

Source: Down to Earth

Relevance: Going from waste to wealth for producing clean energy

Synopsis: Second generation bioethanol can help us reduce our oil import dependency. A brief look at its advantages.


On the eve of 75th Independence Day, Indian PM announced a new goal of transforming India into an ‘energy-independent’ nation by 2047. However, the earlier set target of reducing crude oil import dependency by 10% by 2022 is still far from being achieved.

The recent announcement of the country’s target of 20% ethanol blending in petrol (E20) by 2025 can play a key role in reducing the crude oil imports and bolstering India’s energy independence. India currently blends approximately 8.5% ethanol with petrol.

About bioethanol

Bioethanol is an alternative to fossil transportation fuel. It is categorized as first (1G), second (2G) and third-generation (3G), based on the source of raw material used for bioethanol production

  • First generation (1G) bioethanol uses corn seeds and sugarcane as raw material. There is not enough food for everyone; so the use of 1G is a major concern. However, some countries have enough raw materials to manufacture 1G.
  • Second generation (2G) bioethanol uses inedible farm waste left over after harvest. Corn cobs, rice husks, wheat straw and sugarcane bagasse can all be transformed into cellulose and fermented into ethanol
  • Third generation (3G) bioethanol uses algae grown in wastewater, sewage or salt water  to produce bioethanol.

India has been promoting 2G bioethanol to achieve its E20 target.

Benefits of 2G bioethanol
  • Unlike 1G bioethanol, 2G does not use food resources having no impact on food security
  • 3G bioethanol has issues with respect to economic cost.
  • It also reduces agricultural waste burning issue, thus helps in reduction of air pollution

Terms to know:

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