• Recently, the first Indigenously Designed High Ash Coal Gasification Based Methanol Production Plant has been opened in Hyderabad.
  • With this, Government owned engineering firm BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited) has successfully demonstrated a facility to create methanol from high ash Indian coal.

Important points:

  • Methanol is utilized as a motor fuel, to power ship engines, and to generate clean power all over the world. However, the majority of worldwide methanol production is derived from natural gas which is a relatively easy process.
  • Since India doesn’t have much of the natural gas reserves, producing methanol from imported natural gas leads to outflow of foreign exchange and is uneconomical because of higher prices.
  • The next best option is to utilise India’s abundant coal. However, due to the high ash percentage of Indian coal, most internationally accessible technology will not be adequate.
  • To address this issue, BHEL successfully demonstrated a facility to create 0.25 TPD (Ton per Day) Methanol from high ash Indian coal using a 1.2 TPD Fluidized bed gasifier.
  • The methanol purity of the crude methanol produced is between 98 and 99.5%.
  • This is part of NITI Aayog’s ‘Methanol Economy’ programme that is aimed at reducing India’s oil import bill, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and converting coal reserves and municipal solid waste into methanol.
  • Also this in-house capability will assist India’s coal gasification missionand coal-to-hydrogen production for Hydrogen Mission

Way Forward

  • India, with 125 Billion Tonnes of proven Coal reserves and 500 million tonnes of Biomass generated every year has a huge potential for ensuring energy security based on alternate feedstock and fuels.
  • However, Methanol does not get the same attention from the government as EV (Electric Vehicles), even though the former can come in faster. There is significant work needed to implement the Methanol Economy holistically.
  • The development of methanol based technology can turn energy-importing India into an energy exporting country.


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