Ritu Bordoloi of Namrup, Assam became India’s first owner and user of a cooking stove fuelled by methanol. This success is a part of a pilot project by the Namrup-based Assam Petrochemicals Limited (APL). In the project, APL handed over a stove with two 1.2-litre canisters of methanol to 500 people. Among them, Ms.Bordoloi, a 50-year-old homemaker, successfully cooked in a stove fuelled by Methanol. 

APL is India’s first public sector producer of methanol and formalin from natural gas as the feedstock. Considering the 30 years of experience of APL and the success in the cooking stove project, NITI Aayog approved the project. In Africa, around 5.5 lakh people and 8 million in China use methanol as cooking fuel. But India is the first country where the focus is on replacing LPG.

Can replace LPG

Methanol is the future of fuel in India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi keen on reducing oil imports that set the country back by $86 billion every year. About 80% of LPG consumed in India is imported.

According to alternative fuel expert Prashanth Guru Srinivas, APL’s experience in producing methanol for 30 years gave NITI Ayog the confidence to go ahead with the cooking fuel project.

There are 5.5 lakh people in Africa and 8 million in China who use methanol as cooking fuel. But India is the first country where the focus is on replacing LPG. This is why much of the world is looking at how our cooking fuel project is working out.

About 5% of 70 million metric tonnes of methanol used in China is for cooking, and the resultant market turnover there is $2 billion now, Mr. Srinivas said. Methanol can be a major market in India, besides helping us reduce oil imports by 20%.

In terms of heat value, a 14 kg LPG cylinder is equivalent to about 20 kg of methanol. But methanol works out 30% cheaper, and the saving on an equivalent quantity of LPG is expected to be up to ₹350.

Target Northeast

APL Chairman Jagadish Bhuyan said the company would become the largest producer of methanol in the country by 2019-end after it expands its capacity from 100 MMT to 600 MMT. The expansion project is worth ₹1,337 crore.

APL Managing Director Ratul Bordoloi said the company is now planning to produce methanol from biomass, municipal waste and flare gas from refineries and oil wells. Methanol is not only a clean fuel, it is light and can be easily carried to hilly areas.

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