IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

MD 15

6th November, 2023 Economy

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Picture Courtesy: www.energyportal.eu

Context: Indian Railways’ Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) have collaborated to create Methanol Diesel-15 (MD-15), an innovative and cost-effective fuel that offers superior performance, combustion efficiency, and reduced emissions, potentially reducing diesel dependency and minimizing pollution in the Indian Railways.


  • MD-15 was developed through collaboration between the Indian Railways' Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) and the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL). This joint effort aimed to create a cleaner and more sustainable fuel for Indian Railways.
  • MD-15 is a blended fuel consisting of three main components;
    • Methanol (15%): Methanol is a key component in this blended fuel and is known for its potential to reduce emissions and its cleaner combustion characteristics.
    • Mineral Diesel (71%): The majority of the blend is mineral diesel, which provides the energy required for locomotive engines.
    • Additives (14%): Specially formulated additives developed by IOCL are added to the blend to ensure compatibility with existing diesel locomotives.
  • It has demonstrated superior performance compared to conventional mineral diesel. It exhibits lower cylinder temperatures across all engine operating conditions, which can lead to extended engine component lifespan. This can result in reduced maintenance costs.

The main challenge faced by the researchers in developing MD-15 was the need to effectively blend methanol with diesel. Methanol is a single-molecule fuel and cannot be directly mixed with diesel. The solution involved the addition of specially formulated additives to make the blend compatible with existing diesel locomotives.

Benefits of MD-15

  • It provides superior combustion efficiency and extends the lifespan of engine components by maintaining lower cylinder temperatures.
  • It significantly reduces NOx emissions, contributing to a cleaner and greener environment by reducing air pollution.
  • It offers a cost-effective alternative to diesel, potentially leading to substantial annual savings, particularly for industries like Indian Railways.
  • The use of MD-15 is expected to reduce diesel consumption by 15%, resulting in cost savings and a reduced environmental impact.
  • It can enhance fuel efficiency by up to 15%, reducing the amount of fuel required for the same amount of work or travel.
  • It reduces India's reliance on imported diesel, providing economic and energy security benefits by using domestically produced methanol.
  • It is derived from renewable sources like biomass, municipal solid waste, and captured carbon dioxide, making it more environmentally friendly than conventional diesel, which is derived from fossil fuels.


  • MD-15 is an innovative and environmentally friendly fuel blend that has the potential to address multiple challenges in India, including air pollution, energy efficiency, and reducing dependence on imported fuels. MD-15 could play a significant role in India's efforts to reduce emissions and enhance energy sustainability.

Must Read Articles:

Green Methanol: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/green-methanol


Q. How is India progressing in its efforts to expand and integrate renewable energy sources into its energy mix, and what are the key challenges it faces in achieving its renewable energy targets?