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State-of-the-art bio-energy research centre dedicated to the nation

According to reports,  marking an important event in the development of technology for advanced biofuels in the country, the bio-energy research centre was dedicated to the nation by Prof. K Vijay Raghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, in the presence of Mr. R S Butola, Chairman, Indian Oil and Functional Directors at the sprawling Research & Development Centre of Indian Oil located in Faridabad. Costing about Rs. 50 crore, this centre for advanced bio-energy research has been set up jointly by Indian Oil’s R&D Centre and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Vijay Raghavan advocated application of knowledge of advanced genetic engineering for designer biofuels. He said, “The DBT-IOC Centre for advanced biofuel research, with its advanced facilities, can act as a nucleus of innovative technologies.”

Mr. Butola, Chairman, Indian Oil, said, “Indian Oil realized early on the importance of alternative fuels in our energy basket. Over the last few years, we have allocated considerable resources for research in this area. The dedication of this Centre for Advanced Bio-energy Research marks a significant step in the nation’s quest for affordable, clean and secure energy.”

Dr. RK Malhotra, Director (R&D), IndianOil, said, “We have exhaustive research plans in core areas catering to business of the corporation like refining & petrochemical process technologies, catalysts, lubricant & fuel additives research etc. At the same time, we plan to allocate at least one- third of total resources on futuristic technologies including alternative & renewable energy, gasification, biotechnology and nanotechnology etc.”

As part of the infrastructure, the Centre has established a state-of-the-art lignocellulosic ethanol pilot plant costing, about Rs 8 crore, in technical collaboration with National Renewable Energy Laboratories, USA, that has the capability to study the pre-treatment of various agricultural wastes such as rice straw, cotton stalk, wheat straw, etc and their subsequent conversion to alcohol using sophisticated enzymes.

The Centre has also developed a novel and patented process to use very low value acetate streams to grow a special type of algae which is rich in oil and value added products like omega fatty acids. A global leader in advanced biofuels, M/s. Lanzatech of USA that has developed a process to produce acetates from fermentation of carbon dioxide/Hydrogen mixtures, has shown keen interest to integrate the process. It is expected that this technology would be a game changer for production of algae and high value chemicals. This will be a distinctive technology for carbon dioxide utilization for production of ethanol and chemicals.

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