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Editorial

Kerosene, still the poor man’s fuel

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By EMN Updated: Aug 28, 2013 11:23 pm
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[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or decades the kerosene lamp was the complete requirement not only of the rural masses but of the urban as well. Practically all armies of the world used the hurricane lamps every night especially when they were posted in places where electricity was unavailable. In fact, it was part of the army regulation issue.
In course of time of course, it was found that the kerosene lamps contributed much to the air pollution what with all the advance in technology. The Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) at Phaltan in Maharashtra has developed a device that simultaneously provides light ((equivalent to that from a 300 Watt electric bulb) and cooks a complete meal including chapattis for a family of five.
Thus the Lanstove (combined lantern and cooking stove) makes kerosene an ideal fuel for rural households, according to latest reports. The device burns kerosene efficiently without causing pollution. It is smokeless unlike the biomass powered chulha, and gives excellent light compared with the old timer hurricane lamp. It has a detachable cylinder which can be filled up in kerosene shops like the LPG cylinder.
What makes this new invention of note is that people living below poverty line (BPL) can benefit from it. However, the only problem is the scarcity of kerosene. As it is, these BPL families get only five liters of kerosene per household every month as against about 20 litres they require every month. The government needs to ensure regulated supply for the rural masses.
In India, about 100 million are without electricity. Solar powered light emitting diode (LED) lanterns promoted by government departments and various other agencies are costly and difficult to maintain and even harmful especially to the retina.
The “crude oil” pumped out of the ground is a black liquid called petroleum. This liquid contains aliphatic hydrocarbons composed of nothing but hydrogen and carbon. The real chemical difference between gasoline, kerosene and diesel has to do with their boiling points. They are treated mainly for reducing aromatic content to increase their smoke point (height of a smokeless flame) and hydrofining to reduce sulphur content and to improve odour, colour and burning qualities (char value). Kerosene is used also for manufacture of insecticides/herbicides/fungicides to control pest, weeds and fungi. Since kerosene is less volatile than gasoline, increase in its evaporation rate in domestic burners is achieved by increasing surface area of the oil to be burned and by increasing its temperature. The two types of burners which achieve this fall into two categories namely vaporisers and atomisers.
And of course, kerosene grade one, technically defined as a special type of fuel is used as aviation fuel! What is used rurally speaking is grade seven.
Hope kerosene will still be around with the Lanstove.

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By EMN Updated: Aug 28, 2013 11:23:11 pm