Industry News

Australia and India Form JV to Research on Producing Chemicals from Agricultural Waste

Published on 2014-11-24. Author : SpecialChem

QUT's Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities (CTCB) and the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai, are leading a multi-million dollar research project to reduce the costs of producing bio oils and chemicals from agricultural waste, minimize investment risks and encourage diversification in farming.

Associate Professor Ian O'Hara, Professor William Doherty and Dr Phil Hobson from CTCB and Professor Arvind Lali from ICT gave a presentation on the project to Prime Minister of the Republic of India Mr Narendra Modi, visiting QUT prior to the G20 Leaders' Summit.

Professor Doherty said as well as making the production of renewable fuels more economically viable, the research aimed to extract chemicals to replace conventional oil-derived compounds used in paints, adhesives, fire retardants and plastics for a range of applications including vehicle body parts and building materials.

"The agricultural waste we are using which cannot be used as food or fodder is being sourced from three main crops that are common in Australia and India - sugar cane bagasse, forest residues left over from logging and rice straw," Professor Doherty said.

"Working with eight other research partners, including the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, the project is funded by the Australian and Indian Governments and has major implications for the production of bio-based energy and renewable chemicals.

"Up to 30 per cent of the cost of producing bio oils and other renewable fuels is in the collection, transport and storage of biomass (agricultural waste) prior to processing. We are currently developing tools that enable us to reduce the cost of delivering biomass.

"These tools will be sufficiently flexible to be used for minimizing supply chain costs in Australia, India and elsewhere.

"Our primary aim is to establish biomass as an economically and environmentally sustainable alternative energy source and reduce the risk barriers for companies investing in advanced manufacturing in Australia and India.

"This will significantly increase the viability of farming and rural communities by encouraging diversification associated with the production of major crops common to both the Australian and Indian agricultural sectors.

"Our hybrid biorefinery concept brings together both thermochemical and biochemical conversion processes and technologies developed by participating parties to maximize carbon conversion efficiency and end product value."
Professor Doherty said the team was now set to take the process from the laboratory to the pilot stage at the biocommodity plants in Queensland, WA and India.

"Many of the processes we are using have been developed by the research partners and shown to work at the laboratory scale. This project is focused on significantly enhancing the prospects for commercial implementation by the further development and demonstration of these processes at pilot plant scale," he said.

The Australia-India Strategic Research Fund 2013-2016 project partners are:
• Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane;
• University of Western Australia, Perth;
• Curtin University, Perth;
• New South Wales Department of Primary Industries
• Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai;
• CSIR- National Institute of Interdisciplinary Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram;
• International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi;
• The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi; and
• R&D Centre, Indian Oil Corporation, Faridabad

About The Institute of Chemical Technology
The Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) Mumbai was established as the Department of Chemical Technology on 1st October, 1933 by the University of Mumbai, through active support of industries and philanthropists. The Institute was most popularly known as UDCT, Mumbai. Research has been an integral part of ICT since its inception and it has created over 500 first generation entrepreneurs. The UDCT grew significantly in stature and was granted autonomy under UGC regulations by the University of Mumbai and further converted in to an Institute on 26th January, 2002. Under the World Bank TEQIP program, the Maharashtra government granted it full autonomy in June 2004. Due to the recommendations of the Government of Maharashtra and University of Mumbai, the ICT was granted Deemed University Status by the MHRD on 12th September, 2008, with all provisions of the UGC for funding and support as the state owned deemed university.

About QUT's Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities
Science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and urban development are the engines of growth driving modern society, and they have a wide-reaching impact on our everyday lives. As Australia moves towards a knowledge-based economy, investing in research and education in these fields is an investment in our future economic, social and environmental prosperity. Its vision is to shape future environments through world-leading science and engineering research and innovation. We're building a better future though world-leading teaching and learning.

Source: QUT's Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities  

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