KOLKATA: Researchers at IIT Kharagpur have developed a new technology which will change the way biofuel is manufactured by making the process cheaper, quicker and pollution-free. The ‘soil-to-soil’ manufacturing technology developed at the P K Sinha Centre for bio-energy at IIT-KGP is in the process of being patented, an IIT-KGP spokesperson said today.
“2g bioethanol can be produced from various naturally available ligno-cellulosic components. But to do so it needs to be treated chemically. Because of chemical treatment, the process contributes to polluting the environment,” Professor of Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering, Dr Rintu Banerjee said.
Lignocellulose refers to plant dry matter (biomass).
“We have replaced this chemical treatment with enzymes which degrade the lignin specifically thereby making the manufacturing process pollution free,” Banerjee said. Lignin is a complex organic polymer deposited in the cell walls of many plants, making them woody. Explaining how the technology would work, she said, “Unlike the chemical treatment here the waste product is pollution-free and hence utilising the residual biomass to organic fertiliser is possible.” “It is soil-to-soil technology, an integrated process where we are using natural resources to extract gaseous and liquid biofuel and then converting the wastes into biofertilizer,” she said.
“It is a unique integrated approach which we have developed in our lab,” she claimed.
The ‘National Policy on bio-fuel’ had set the target at 20 per cent blending of biofuel with petrol by 2017. With the government expecting bio-fuel business in India to touch Rs 50,000 crore by 2022 this new green technology with lesser manufacturing cost and time can become a game changer. “The technique that we are suggesting will ensure relatively quicker production of bio-fuel and that the process is completely green thereby not creating any secondary pollution. This, we feel can change the future of biofuel manufacturing in India and make it more cost effective,” Banerjee said.
Presently this project is funded by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Department of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The green leafy part of corn and sugarcane plants, the waste part of paddy straw, bamboo, banana plant, pineapple and cotton plants, kans grass (kassh phool), castor plant and even non-edible weeds that grow in dry and waste land and a mix of all has been used by IIT-KGP to produce biofuel.
“The technology is ready for industry use,” Banerjee said.