Agriculture Biodiversity Innovation

IIT researchers find low-cost biofuel production method

There is an increasing demand for alternative fuels as existing crude reserves are depleting.

Dehradun: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee have come up with a new low-cost method for production of biofuels.

The research team led by Richa Katiyar, Centre for Transportation Systems and B R Gurjar, Department of Civil Engineering and Centre for Transportation Systems, IIT, Roorkee, has used the algal-based crude glycerol, which is a low-cost organic carbon source and the main by-product of the biodiesel production process.

Crude glycerol works as a media feedstock for cultivation of microalgae, thereby reducing the cost of the substrate to a negligible point.

 The research has shown that the use of the crude glycerol has caused the enhancement in total lipid accumulation in the algal cells.

The various analyses and testing post-production of biodiesel using this method has shown better quantity and quality of the fuel and the fuel thus produced was also comparable to the existing vehicular fuel standards.

Microalgae are considered as one of the superior resources for production of biodiesel due to its ability to produce higher biomass and accumulate more lipids, which are the target material for biodiesel production.

“To increase the rate of production and to make it cost- effective, we continuously employed the use of heterotrophic cultivation of microalgae using low-cost organic carbon-based feed stocks such as agro waste, molasses, municipal and industrial wastes, algal-based crude glycerol and fruits extracts, ” Katiyar, who led the team of researchers, said.

“In todays time, there is an ever-increasing demand for an alternative fuel as the existing reserves of crude are depleting at a rapid rate. Traditionally, the production of biodiesel from microalgae has been a slow process and involves high production costs,” Gurjar said.

He said the method used by the team is also beneficial to the environment as there is no biodiversity loss attached to it.

Moreover, it increases waste minimisation by using material like agro-waste and is able to produce enhanced quantity and quality of biodiesel, Gurjar said.

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