The Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG) researchers have developed methods to produce biofuels from non-edible seeds. The team of innovators who have successfully executed the task is led by Dr. Kaustubha Mohanty, Professor of the Department of Chemical Engineering at IITG.
Results of the team’s research have been published recently in high-impact journals such as Bioresource Technology, Fuel, Renewable Energy, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, Journal of the Energy Institute and Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery.
The team led by Mohanty comprises of research students – Dr. Ranjeet Kumar Mishra, Dr. Krushna P. Shadangi, Mithelesh Koul, Gautam Ganeshan and Gourav Chatterjee, who have coauthored the papers.
“Oils derived from non-edible seeds of plants can be used to produce biofuels, to eliminate the competition between food and fuel”, said Mohanty. Plants and trees found in India, such as peela kaner, mahua, gulmohar, neem, rain tree, castor, kusum etc., produce seeds that have oil from which biofuels can be made. Mohanty and his research team use a heat-chemical route to produce biofuels from these and other such seeds that they painstakingly collect from various parts of the country.
“We found that these non-edible seeds had a high amount of oil in them, which was exciting”, he added. The researchers designed a low-cost pyrolyzer to obtain biofuel from these oils. They said that while the yield of biofuel was very encouraging, there were some problems – the biofuel had lower acidity and high oxygen content, which made them unsuitable for use as transportation fuel.