Tata inks accord for dual-fuel tech

Written by Anupama Airy | New Delhi, Apr 24 | Updated: Apr 26 2008, 05:23am hrs
Tata Motors is working on technology that will allow its diesel generators to also use natural gas. The company is in the process of entering into a technology tie-up with the New Energy & Industrial Technology Development Organisation (Nedo), a Japanese government agency, to convert its generators to dual-fuel systems.

Official sources told FE that a four-party memorandum of understanding (MoU) is expected to be signed shortly between Nedo, Tata Motors and the ministries of power and finance. A Tata Motors official spokesperson said, however, that there were no immediate plans to use the technology for vehicle diesel engines.

Under the MoU (a copy of which is available with FE), a model project for basic engineering, design and manufacture of such dual-fuel engines is proposed to be undertaken at the Tata Motors plant in Pune. The economic viability of such engines, though, has to be looked into before commercialising the systems in India.

Dual-fuel systemsgenerators that operate on more than one fuel sourceare gaining popularity because they reduce fossil fuel use. They also reduce emissions by allowing engines to operate cleanly on natural gas while still retaining the option to operate them on diesel.

The MoU states that the technology will be used to convert the fuel source of existing generators from solely heavy oil (diesel) to dual-fuel by adding auxiliary equipment and replacing some components. Natural gas would then become the primary fuel and a very small amount of heavy oil would be needed for pilot injection.

Commenting on the involvement of the power ministry in the MoU, officials said the technology has the potential to benefit industries using diesel and heavy oil-based generators.

If successful, it can even help liquid fuel-based power plants switch to gas. It will also go a long way towards helping the railways reduce the amount of diesel needed to run locomotives by cutting emissions and allowing less restricted operation.

Diesel engines have traditionally been used for industrial power, cogeneration power systems, locomotives, in marine applications and other engine markets. However, as tougher environmental standards are being enacted throughout industry, users of diesel generators are looking for ways to lower emissions without reducing power.