The government has decided to allow the use of bio-ethanol as vehicle fuel by mixing it with petrol and octane at a 5% ratio.
The initiative, first ever in Bangladesh, was taken to reduce the use of conventional fuel oil and carbon emission, with aims to mitigate environmental pollution across the country.
On December 12 this year, the Energy and Mineral Resources Division published a gazette notification directing people concerned to set up bio-ethanol plants.
According to the gazette, a number of organizations in the country have showed a keen interest in setting up bio-ethanol plants to meet the growing development and economic needs throughout Bangladesh.
As a result, there is a strong need for a specific policy on setting up plants, production chain and usage, it read.
Bio-ethanol is primarily used in vehicles as fuel by mixing it with petrol and octane at a permissible ratio. It is a chemical compound which is produced through a fermentation process by using organic raw materials.
Ethanol, a clear and colourless liquid, is the chemical name for Ethyl Alcohol. According to the gazette notification, biomass will be used as a raw material for this type of bio-ethanol plant.
Biomass is a term for organic material that comes from plants and animals, maize grain, maize tree, molasses, old news paper, rice husk, sugarcane waste, cotton yarn, straw, tree , municipal waste, cotton, waste of textile mills, water hyacinths, aquatic and forestry soft plants and switch grass.
The gazette pointed out that other food products except the above mentioned material will not be included in the list of raw materials.
An individual or an organisation will have to take prior government permission to establish a bio-ethanol plant, it read.
The produced Bio-ethanol must be supplied to Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) nominated depots with its own management.
If a bio-ethanol plant fails to follow government regulations or if the produced bio-ethanol is of sub-standard quality, the plant authorities will be served a notice, and will be fined Tk10 lakh. For a second time offence, the plant will be fined Tk30-50 lakh, and for a third time offence, action will be taken according to the decision of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources.
The gazette notification also read: “The addition of internationally recognised denatured or foul-smelling ingredients in required amount is a must to ensure that the bio-ethanol cannot be consumed.”
During transport or storage, the containers are required to have visible signs indicating that its contents are toxic. The bio-ethanol can only be sent to the BPC after it has been certified to have met required standards by the Department of Narcotics Control.
“There will be no obstacles in selling bio-ethanol as per the government direction. But, I doubt whether it would be cost effective or not,” Mohammad Nazmul Haque, president of Petrol Pump and Tank-Lorry Owners Association told the Dhaka Tribune last Monday.
Nazmul also argued that prices of octane and petrol may go up in the new process, adding that around 5,000 tons of petrol and octane is sold across the country every day.