IIT – Kharagpur develops technology to make pollution-free biofuel

Kolkata: Researchers at IIT – Kharagpur have developed a technology that has the potential to make biofuel manufacturing cheaper, quicker and free of pollution.

The ‘soil-to-soil’ manufacturing technology developed at the P.K. Sinha Centre for Bioenergy at IIT – Kharagpur is in the process of being patented.

Researchers say bioethanol can be produced from various naturally available ligno-cellulosic components, but to do so the biomass needs to be treated chemically and in some cases physico-chemically. Because of chemical treatment, the process contributes to polluting the environment.

“We have replaced this chemical treatment with enzymes which degrade the lignin specifically, thereby making the manufacturing process pollution-free,” said Rintu Banerjee, Professor of Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering at the P.K. Sinha Centre for Bioenergy.

“Also unlike the chemical treatment, here the waste product is pollution-free and hence utilising the residual biomass to make organic fertiliser is possible,” Banerjee said.

The ‘National Policy on bio-fuel’ targeted 20 per cent blending of biofuel with petrol by 2017.

With the government expecting the bio-fuel business in India to touch Rs 50,000 crore by 2022, this new green technology with lesser manufacturing cost and time could become a game changer, the researchers said.

“The technique that we are suggesting will ensure relatively quicker production of bio-fuel and ensuring that the process is completely green, not creating any secondary pollution. This, we feel can change the future of bio-fuel manufacturing in India and make it more cost effective,” said Banerjee.

This project is funded by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Department of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Human Resource Development.