Ashok Pandey, Ph.D.
Scientist F & Head, Biotechnology Division, National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology-CSIR), Thiruvananthapuram, India
Alternative renewable resources: Issues and perspectives for India – the case of transport fuels
With the increase in the urbanization way of life and also more and more dependence on materialistic life, there is substantial growing demand for the energy. The science and technological policy of the India has looked several avenues to fulfill this demand through alternative resources such as solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy, bioenergy, etc. The demand for the transport sector is largely met through the import (~70%). Biofuels, in particular bioethanol from lignocellulosic biomass offer attractive possibilities in this regard.
The sugar platform which generates ethanol is considered to be the most valuable solution to the transport fuel demand. Bioethanol can be generated from grains as well as from lignocellulosic plant material by their saccharification to sugars and subsequent fermentation of the sugars to produce ethanol. Bio-ethanol as a transportation fuel is attractive since it is more energy efficient than gasoline and produces less emissions. The benefits of developing biomass to ethanol technology(s) include: increased national energy security, reduction in GHG emissions, use of renewable resources, economic benefits and creation of employment and the foundation of a carbohydrate based chemical industry. However, the utilization of lignocellulosic biomass for fuel generation has not been given the sort of attention it ought to receive. It is known that the technology for ethanol production from biomass has to evolve greatly for an economical commercial scale utilization of the renewable biomass resources. Biomass requires extensive processing involving multiple steps for hydrolysis and fermentation of the raw material for producing ethanol. Feed stock availability, pretreatment, saccharification, fermentation and ethanol recovery are all factors which influence the production of ethanol and which needs R&D efforts for overall improvement of the production economics.
Bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass (LB) can contribute significantly to the production of organic chemicals also. LB is also considered to be the only foreseeable source of energy. LB is mainly composed of (dry wt basis): cellulose, 40-60; hemicellulose, 20-40; and lignin, 10-25%. Most efficient method of biomass hydrolysis is through enzymatic saccharification5 using cellulases and hemicellulases. Fungal cellulases (FCs) have proved to be a better candidate than other microbial cellulases, with their secreted free cellulase complexes comprising all three components of cellulase [endoglucanases, exoglucanases and cellobiases (glucosidases).
The Centre for Biofuels at NIIST, Trivandrum, India aims ultimately to develop technologies and processes which will address the nation’s need for making fuel ethanol from the renewable resource: biomass. It is proposed to direct R&D activities at the major requirements of a biomass-ethanol technology, which include production of cellulases, hydrolysis of biomass, and ethanol fermentation. Viable technologies for each of these processes will contribute to the overall process development for fuel alcohol production from cheap and renewable biomass resources.
The lecture would present perspectives on bioethanol from lignocellulosic feedstocks.
- Biofuels- Alternative Feedstocks and Conversion Processes, Editors- Ashok Pandey, C Larroche, SC Ricke, CG Dussap & E Gnansounou, Academic Press, Elsevier Inc; San Diego, USA, p629 (2011) ISBN: 978-0-12-385099-7
- Handbook of Plant-Based Biofuels, Editor- Ashok Pandey, CRC Press, Francis & Taylors, Boca Raton, USA, p 297 (2008) ISBN 978-q-5602-2175-3
- Biofuels II, Special issue of Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research, Guest Editors- E Gnansounou, C Larroche and Ashok Pandey, 67(11), 837-1040 (2008) ISSN: 0022-4456
- Biofuels, Special issue of Journal of Scientific & Industrial Research, Guest Editors- C Larroche and Ashok Pandey, 64(11), 797-988 (2005) ISSN: 0022-4456