Green Fuel Alternatives

In recent times, there has been a marked shift from use of conventional fossil fuels to new and renewable sources of energy that are cleaner, safer and inexhaustible. Against the backdrop of a widening gap between supply and demand, it becomes imperative to diversify energy sources and explore alternative ways to meet the country's energy need and sustain economic growth. Growing environmental concerns also pose a serious challenge for energy companies, underlying the urgency to usher in cleaner and sustainable energy resources.

In the country's pursuit of alternative sources of energy, IndianOil is focussing on CNG (compressed natural gas), Autogas (LPG), ethanol blended petrol, bio-diesel, and Hydrogen energy.


CNG is being marketed from select IndianOil outlets in Mumbai and Delhi as a franchisee of Mahanagar Gas Ltd., Mumbai, and Indraprastha Gas. Ltd., Delhi, respectively. As on date, CNG is available at 13 IndianOil outlets each in Mumbai and Delhi. As demand picks up, IndianOil will set up additional outlets.

Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG)

Bio-gas is produced naturally (through a process of anaerobic decomposition) from waste / bio-mass sources like agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste, etc. After purification, it is compressed and called CBG, which has high methane content. Further, Compressed Bio-Gas is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential. With similar calorific value and other properties similar to CNG, Compressed Bio-Gas can be used as an alternative, renewable automotive fuel. Given the abundance of biomass in the country, Compressed Bio-Gas has the potential to replace CNG in automotive, industrial and commercial uses in the coming years. In a significant push that has the potential to boost availability of more affordable transport fuels, better use of agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste as well as to provide an additional revenue source to farmers, an innovative initiative titled SATAT (Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation) has been kicked-off by PSU Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs, that is, IOC, BPC and HPC) inviting Expression of Interest (EoI) from potential entrepreneurs to set up Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) production plants and make available CBG in the market for use in automotive fuels. This developmental effort would benefit both vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs.

Autogas (LPG)

AutoGas (LPG) is a clean, high octane, abundant and eco-friendly fuel. It is obtained from natural gas through fractionation and from crude oil through refining. It is a mixture of petroleum gases like propane and butane. The higher energy content in this fuel results in a 10% reduction of CO2 emission as compared to MS. The use of LPG as an automotive fuel has become legal in India with effect from April 24, 2000, albeit within the prescribed safety terms and conditions. Hitherto, the thousands of LPG vehicles running in various cities have been doing so illegally by using domestic LPG cylinders, a very unsafe practice. Using domestic LPG cylinders in automobiles is still illegal. The fuel is marketed by IndianOil under the brand name 'AutoGas'. Indian Oil has setup 352 Auto LPG Dispensing Stations(as on 01.11.19) covering 204 cities across India. AutoGas impacts greenhouse emissions less than any other fossil fuel when measured through the total fuel cycle. Conversion of petrol to AutoGas helps substantially reduce air pollution caused by vehicular emissions The saving on account of conversion to AutoGas in comparison to petrol is about 35-40%. Low filling times and the 35-40% saving is a reason enough for a consumer to convert his vehicle to AutoGas.

Ethanol-blended petrol

In the year 2003, a new eco-friendly fuel popularly called 'Gasohol' was launched. This fuel combines petrol with 5% ethanol obtained from the sugarcane molasses available throughout the country. IndianOil's R&D centre has established a feasibility of ethanol blending up to 10%, which is now gaining acceptance of vehicle manufacturers. India has also signed a MOU with Brazil in April 2002 for transfer of technology in blending ethanol with petrol and diesel at higher properties.

Doping of ethanol with petrol supplies extra oxygen for complete combustion, which reduces carbon monoxide levels in auto emission and therefore, it is considered more environment friendly as it lessens air pollution. For now, its biggest advantage is for the macro economy. When fully implemented all over the country, the programme can provide tangible benefits to our economy on the energy front.

Based on successful completion of the pilot project initiated by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India and studies conducted by IndianOil R&D, supply of 5% ethanol-blended petrol has been initiated in 10 States and three Union Territories in the first phase, and will be further extended to all parts of the country subsequently.


Biodiesel is an alternative fuel, having diesel like properties, synthesised by a simple chemical reaction of alcohols with vegetable oils. It is commonly made from edible oils like soyabean, rapeseed and palm oil in the world. However, non-edible tree borne oil seeds of Jatropha and Karanjia are material of choice for India. These trees are energy fixing, fast-growing and yield appreciable quantity of seeds.

IndianOil R&D has perfected a process to produce biodiesel from various non-edible oils, especially from Jatropha and Karanjia. The biodiesel produced has been tested for its properties and meets the stringent international standards. Extensive field trials have been conducted using 5 and 10% bio-diesel blends in collaboration with Indian Railways, Haryana Roadways, TATA, etc.

The R&D Centre is now taking a number of initiatives for promotion of biodiesel in the country. A state-of-the art quality control laboratory has been set up to check the quality of biodiesel, as per ASTM/BIS specifications. IndianOil has entered into an MOU with Indian Railways for plantation of Jatropha on railway land. It is also setting up 10 biodiesel procurement centres. A reduction of 10 to 15% in smoke density has been observed with the use of biodiesel blends.

Hydrogen Energy

Hydrogen holds the potential to provide a clean and reliable source of energy that can be used in a wide range of applications, including the transport sector. Besides ensuring energy security to the nation, the environmental benefits of using Hydrogen in a fuel cell vehicle could be significant.

IndianOil R&D in collaboration with SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) and other vehicle manufacturers, had undertaken extensive field validation exercises to arrive at the optimal Hydrogen percentage to be spiked in CNG for deriving maximum benefits in fuel economy and emissions reduction. Further, IndianOil is also extensively working with heavy duty automakers to optimise the catalyst recipe of three-way catalytic converters fitted on buses and trucks to bring down the NOx levels within the permissible range of the BS-VI emission limits when CNG is replaced with H-CNG.

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