CHENNAI: With India planning to reduce crude oil imports by 10% by 2022, there is increased emphasis on alternate and sustainable source of fuels. TN, a non-starter so far, is going to foray into green CNG in a big way.
The petroleum major IOC is likely to put-up several CNG stations in Namakkal and Coimbatore regions as the mega 400 MT biogas waste plant in Namakkal will be producing compressed bio-gas, which is otherwise known as green CNG and can be used in vehicles.
Namakkal plant, commissioned in 2012, jointly by IOC Sister company IOT Infrastructure and Energy Services Limited (IOT), and German-based Mabagas GmbH & Co. KG (Mabagas), enjoying equal share, was generating electricity from biogas. But now, it has been decided to purify the bio-gas from generating green CNG using indigenous technology developed by IOC R&D Centre in Faridabad.
SSV Ramakumar, director, IOC R&D, said the Namakkal plant was one of the best in the world that digests waste/bio-mass sources like agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste, etc to produce bio-gas through a process of anaerobic decomposition. “After purification, it is compressed and called CBG, which has pure methane content of over 95%. CBG is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential,” he said. He said the key is that the Namakkal plant uses IOC developed microbes, instead of German microbes for processing. What is observed was IOC microbes generates 85% methane out of one tonne of biomass, when compared to 55% using other lands.
Also, under Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT), the Union Petroleum ministry is encouraging entrepreneurs to set-up 5,000 CBG production plants in India and make available CBG in the market for use in automotive fuels. Three State-owned PSU Oil Marketing Companies (i.e. IOC, BPCL and HPCL), assure off-take guarantee in geographical areas of production with a minimum assured price of ` 46 per kg, which is very attractive. Ramakumar told Express that Namakkal plant transformation would happen in six months. “CBG produced at this plant will be transported through cascades of cylinders to the fuel station networks of IOC for marketing as a green transport fuel alternative,” he said, and added that the technology was available for licensing.
Second R&D centre coming-up
IOC is well on its way to set up a second R&D unit which is expected to be the world’s largest sustainable campus, and aims to be a Net Zero Energy Building, which means power and water will be sourced from within. Ramakumar said the new campus, which would 8 km from the existing plant, will cost ` 2,300 cr. It is envisaged to have LEED Platinum Certification for the campus. Structured doctoral programmes in the campus, with residential facilities for PhD scholars will be offered.