DBT ties up with TERI to set up its 5th centre of excellence in bioenergy

While the government is garnering efforts to make India the clean energy world capital, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has flagged clean energy and Swachh Bharat—waste to energy as two of its key missions

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New Delhi: The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology and The Energy and Research Institute (TERI) on 31st October 2018 exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding for setting up of India’s first ever DBT–TERI Centre for Integrated Production of Advanced Biofuels and Bio-commodities. This is also the DBT’s fifth Centre of Excellence in Bioenergy.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, DBT mentioned that “we are looking this project not only to carry out R&D research work but with creation of products in the area of bio-commodities and bioenergy that can be finally commercialized as well.” She further added that “India has a strong biofuel policy and the upcoming centre will definitely add to the strengthening of capacity building approach of the Department in particular and country as a whole.” She finally expressed her happiness in announcing India’s first Integrated Bioenergy and Bioproduct Centre.

Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI said that creation of affordable eco-friendly bio-products and bio-commodities is the need of the hour. It is a challenging work, which will help face the problem of climate change and global warming. Waste to energy or commodities like bio-plastics will be very beneficial in the coming years.

This program is being supported through various schemes and major emphasis is on development of Next generation bio-fuels.

A look at DBT’s mission bioenergy

DBT has established a large network of more than 100 scientists in the country, who are working to realize the goals set in National Biofuel Policy. Efforts continued to support the R&D toward development of cost effective next generation bio-fuels like algal biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, bio butanol and bio hydrogen.

Department has established four bio-energy centers in country, specifically to strengthen the research base in the country in bio-fuel area and to promote translation of process and technologies from research to scale up and commercialization. These centers have the state of art facility and research teams are working in interdisciplinary areas related to bio-energy. Various technologies including cellulosic ethanol have been developed.

So far, economic viability is a major constrain for advanced biofuel production and thus limiting its commercialization. It is recognized that the by-products generated during the biofuel production process can be utilized to produce value addition bio-commodities, in an integrated bio-refinery approach to make the overall process cost competitive. The by-products could be utilized as food, feed, nutrition supplements, developing bio-plastics and novelty specialty chemicals that can be further utilized for production of customer products. This will also ensure waste generation to the minimal.

What is expected from this fifth centre for bioenergy

This fifth Bio-energy Centre in the country is being established at TERI with the support of DBT in collaboration with the institutes such as Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi; Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati; Transtech Green Power Limited, Jaipur; and ONGC Energy Centre, Delhi NCR.

The unique concept of integrated production of advanced biofuels and bio-commodities is based on the multidisciplinary research expertise of TERI including previous success in establishing photo bioreactor of 10,000 litre capacities for round the year production of high lipid containing algal strain, pilot scale (1500 litre) scale biohydrogen production through dark fermentation process and pyrolytic bio-oil production. Comprehensive techno-economic analysis, environmental assessment and socio-economic assessment would be carried out covering the entire range of the integrated bio-fuel and bio-commodity components.

Advanced biofuels production technologies in bio-refinery approach would aid in reducing dependence on the finite fossil fuel reserves, reducing crude oil imports, and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from energy utilization. These can open new economic streams in sustainable management of waste generated from agriculture, industrial or urban sector and can bring economic opportunities to rural communities.