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23rd December Current Affairs

India pitching for enhanced development of Biofuels

(GS-III: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation)

In News:

India, during its Presidency of G20, is emphasising on international collaboration for energy security and enhanced development of emerging fuels like biofuel and hydrogen.

Background:

Government notified the use of hydrogen as automotive fuel for fuel cell vehicles on 16th September, 2016.

Oil CPSEs are setting up 2G ethanol bio-refineries in the country at Panipat (Haryana), Bathinda (Punjab), Numaligarh (Assam), Bargarh (Odisha) and one demonstration project at Panipat.

About Biofuels:

Biofuels are liquid or gaseous fuels primarily produced from biomass, and can be used to replace or can be used in addition to diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport and other applications.

Crops used to make biofuels are generally either high in sugar (such as sugarcane, sugarbeet), starch (such as maize and tapioca) or oils (such as soybean, rapeseed, coconut, sunflower).

Categories of biofuels:

1st-generation biofuels are made from sugar, starch, vegetable oil, or animal fats using conventional technology.

2nd generation biofuels are produced from non-food crops, such as cellulosic biofuels and waste biomass (stalks of wheat and corn, and wood).

3rd generation biofuels are produced from microorganisms like algae.

Indian efforts to promote Biofuels:

National Policy on Biofuels 2018: It aims to have country-wide blending rates of 20% ethanol and 5% biodiesel by 2030. It also focused on using 2G technologies with agricultural/industrial waste products.

However, through amendments to this policy, government now aims to achieve a blending target of 20% ethanol by 2025 rather than 2030.

Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) program: It aims to achieve ethanol blending in order to reduce pollution, conserve foreign exchange, and so on.

Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan – Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana: Launched in 2019 to create an ecosystem for commercial project development and R&D in the 2G Ethanol sector.

GOBAR (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources) DHAN scheme: It focuses on managing and converting farm animal dung and solid waste into useful compost, biogas, and bio-CNG, thereby keeping villages clean and increasing rural household income.

Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO): It aims to create an ecosystem that allows for the collection and conversion of used cooking oil to biodiesel.

Way ahead:

The proposed expansions in 1G biofuel production need to think about broader land-use strategies, identifying land suitable for energy crops.

India needs to develop alternative feedstocks for biodiesel production.

Existing frameworks like the Clean Development Mechanism could be leveraged to directly fund R&D in the sector.

Lion @ 47: Vision for ‘Amrutkal’

In News:

Project Lion document titled “Lion @ 47: Vision for Amrutkal” has been prepared by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Details:

The Project is being implemented in the Gir landscape in Gujarat which is the last home of the Asiatic lion. It envisages landscape ecology-based conservation by integrating conservation and eco-development.

Objectives:

To secure & restore lions’ habitats for managing its growing population

Scale up livelihood generation and participation of local communities

To make India a global hub of knowledge on big cat disease diagnostics and treatment

Create inclusive biodiversity conservation

State government of Gujarat also gets funding for conservation of wildlife under centrally sponsored scheme – Integrated development of Wildlife Habitats.

Asiatic Lions:

Scientific name: Panthera leo persica

IUCN Status: Endangered, CITES: Appendix I, Wildlife Conservation Act: Schedule I

Slightly smaller than African Lions

The most striking morphological character, which is always seen in Asiatic lions, and rarely in African lions, is a longitudinal fold of skin running along its belly.

The fur ranges in colour from ruddy-tawny, heavily speckled with black, to sandy or buff-grey, sometimes with a silvery sheen in certain lights.

Males have only moderate mane growth at the top of the head, so that their ears are always visible.

How nasal vaccines work?

In News:

Though the existing vaccines have been working effectively, researchers are developing alternative approaches to improve effectiveness. 14 nasal vaccines are in the clinical trial stage.

How do Immune System fight pathogens?

The immune system has two distinct components: mucosal and circulatory.

The mucosal immune systemprovides protection at the mucosal surfaces of the body. (Specialised antibody called IgA/SIgA)

The circulatory part of the immune systemgenerates antibodies and immune cells that are delivered through the bloodstream to the internal tissues and organs.

How nasal vaccines work?

Administered via nose

The viral antigens intended to stimulate the immune system would be taken up by immune cells within the lining of the nose or tonsils.

Antigens in the vaccine induce B cells in mucosal sites to mature into plasma cells that secrete a form of IgA.

The IgA is then transported into mucosal secretions throughout the body, where it becomes

If the SIgA antibodies in the nose, mouth or throat target SARS-CoV-2, they could neutralize the virus before it can drop down into the lungs and establish an infection.

Advantage: Block virus at the entry point.

The uncontrolled re-entries of satellites

In News:

Experts and dignitaries have signed an open letter published by Outer Space Institute calling for efforts to restrict uncontrolled satellite re-entries.

What is uncontrolled Satellite re – entry?

The phenomenon of rocket parts falling back to earth in an unguided fashion, once their missions are complete.

It’s path down is determined by its shape, angle of descent, air currents etc.

Potential radius of impact increases on the ground.

An impact on an airliner would prove fatal for all passengers if the debris is above 300 grams.

Most rocket parts land in oceans (earth’s surface has more water than land).

Why scientists are worried about re-entry?

If re entering stages still hold fuel, atmospheric and terrestrial contamination is a risk.

Countries in Global South face disproportionately higher risk and casualties.

No international binding agreement to ensure rocket stages always perform controlled re-entry.

Liability Convention 1972: require country to pay damages, but not prevent them.

What can make minimum damage?

Future solutions should include re-entering satellites as well

Smaller satellites experience more atmospheric drag and are likely to be burnt up in the process of re-entry.

Best practice: RISAT- 2 was tracked by ISRO using its system for safe and sustainable space operations management from a month. It eventually fell into Indian Ocean.