IIT Guwahati Develops Methods To Produce Biofuel From Waste Seeds
Several other useful byproducts were obtained as a result of developing biofuels through this process.
A team of researchers from Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, or IIT Guwahati, has developed a method to produce biofuel from non-edible waste seeds. To improve the properties of the biofuels derived from non-edible seed oils, the IIT researchers used various catalysts including calcium oxide and zeolite during the conversion of seed oil to biofuel.
Results of the research have been published in several journals like Bioresource Technology, Fuel, Renewable Energy, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, Journal of the Energy Institute and Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery. The paper has been authored by Dr Kaustubha Mohanty, Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Guwahati and his team of research students, Dr Ranjeet Kumar Mishra, Dr Krushna P Shadangi, Mr Mithelesh Koul, Mr Gautam Ganeshan and Mr Gourav Chatterjee.
A statement issued by IIT Guwahati said: “There have been worldwide attempts to produce fuel from renewable biological resources in order to overcome future oil shortages...The conversion of food resources to fuel compromises the global supply-demand of food, especially in developing countries with existing nutritional deficiencies.”
Dr Mohanty while explaining the process of developing biofuels from waste seeds and problems faced in the development said: “Oils derived from non-edible seeds of plants can be used to produce biofuels, to eliminate the competition between food and fuel”
Dr Mohanty and his team used a “heat-chemical route” to produce biofuels from non-edible seeds of numerous trees including mahua, gulmohar and neem.
Several useful by-products were obtained in the process of making biofuels. The IIT statement added: “One such remnant they could recover was hexadecanoic acid, which is used in making soaps, various cosmetic products, and release agents. Another was stearic acid that has numerous industrial applications.”
Dr Mohanty said: “This is truly a waste-to-value operation.” The team is seeking to understand the chemical mechanisms by which biofuels are produced from these sources and are studying their applicability in engines, he added.
The IIT team had derived bio-oil from a mixture of waste plastics and waste biomass. Single-use nitrile gloves used in lab and medical settings were used for this purpose, said the statement.