The government of India has brought forward its target of blending ‘20 per cent ethanol’ with petrol from 2030 to 2025. But what is it 20 per cent of? This obviously depends upon petrol consumption. However, there is no reliable year-wise forecast for gasoline or ethanol demand in India till 2030.

Now a group of scientists from the National Institute of Technology Mizoram, Aizawl, have used statistical methods to estimate the demand for petrol in 2030, and, thence, for ethanol. Their study used various linear and non-linear regression models; autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) models are developed and compared for forecasting gasoline demand in India. Historical gasoline consumption data from 1997 to 2021 was used to develop and evaluate these models.

In the end, the study forecast that the gasoline demand in 2030 will be 56,236.632 million litres. Therefore, 11,247.326 million litres of ethanol will be required to meet the blending target of 20 per cent. However, the current domestic ethanol production falls way behind. “So, a huge shortage of ethanol will be experienced if effective measures are not taken to increase domestic ethanol production,” the study says.

Shellac vs plastic

A paper authored by scientists at the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation, Chandigarh, says that shellac is a good substitute for single-use plastics, making it a desirable, eco-friendly material for food packaging.

Shellac, or Laccifer lacca, is the refined version of lac, a resin secreted by lac insects. Lac is secreted by female lac bugs, most commonly of the species Kerria lacca. Shellac is an edible resin and is used in both food and non-food end-use industries. In India, Burma, Thailand, and southern China, Shellac has been recognised for about 4,000 years and was originally used as a natural dye for architecture, silk, and leather dyeing. Shellac is a low-molecular-weight resin mainly composed of oxyacid polyesters. The oxyacids are divided into aleuritic acids and cyclic terpene acids linked by ester bonds, which, respectively, constitute the hydrophobic and hydrophilic components of Shellac. Therefore, Shellac possesses the additional advantage of excellent amphiphilicity. Shellac wax and shellac dye are also used in the food industry, especially in post-harvesting. India is a leading producer and processor of shellac.

Polymer electrolyte

Methyl cellulose-based solid polymer electrolytes with dispersed zinc oxide nanoparticles is a promising candidate for battery applications, according to a group of researchers from the universities of Manipal, Mangalore and Dharwad, Karnataka

They took a good conducting polymer electrolyte system and doped it with different amounts of zinc oxide nanoparticles to assess their effect on the polymer’s properties. The dispersal of zinc oxide nanoparticles served to enhance the conductivity, a paper authored by them, and published in The Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids, says. “A primary battery has been fabricated, and its open-circuit potential and discharge characteristics have been studied. Overall, the prepared electrolytes have excellent properties and may thus be promising candidates for energy storage devices,” the paper says.