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Explained: What is Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA)?

Alcohol manufacturers want import duty reduced. What is ENA’s use, and how is it prepared?

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
December 5, 2019 9:17:02 am
Explained: What is Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA)? Amitabh Kant CEO Niti Ayog (Express File Photo: Anil Sharma)

Alcohol manufacturers have written to NITI Aayog asking for reduction in import duty. Anticipating shortage of domestic supplies, they have sought a reduction in duty to make it cost-effective for them to import Extra Neutral Alcohol from global markets.

Extra Neutral Alcohol (ENA) is the primary raw material for making alcoholic beverages. It is a colourless food-grade alcohol that does not have any impurities. It has a neutral smell and taste, and typically contains over 95 per cent alcohol by volume. It is derived from different sources — sugarcane molasses and grains — and is used in the production of alcoholic beverages such as whisky, vodka, gin, cane, liqueurs, and alcoholic fruit beverages.

ENA also serves as an essential ingredient in the manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products such as perfumes, toiletries, hair spray, etc. Given its properties as a good solvent, ENA also finds industrial use and is utilised in the production of some lacquers, paints and ink for the printing industry, as well as in pharmaceutical products such as antiseptics, drugs, syrups, medicated sprays. Consultancy firm IMARC Group’s estimates put the ENA market in India at a volume of 2.9 billion litres in 2018.

Like ethanol, ENA is a byproduct of the sugar industry, and is formed from molasses that are a residue of sugarcane processing. In its letter to NITI Aayog anticipating lower supplies, the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies has cited the diversion of ethanol for bio-fuel blending by oil marketing companies, and recent floods in Maharashtra and Karnataka that have adversely affected sugarcane crop in the region.

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