Mumbai, India (PressExposure) January 21, 2012 -- Although India is considered an Emerging Economy, it stands 4th in terms of GDP & is today the sixth largest and one the fastest growing energy consumers in the world, due to a growing population and rapid industrialization. As India meets 72% of its energy requirement through imports, alternate sources of energy are being tapped. Besides, nuclear energy, wind, waves & solar energy, bio-fuels seem to offer a promise as an alternative energy source to fossil fuels. With this in mind the government has developed the National Bio-fuel Policy for both development and commercialization of Bio-fuel. The main aim of this policy is 20% blending bio-diesel and Bio-ethanol in fossil fuels by 2017 (currently at 5%).
Bio-ethanol and Bio-diesel are the predominant types of Bio-fuel in India. India produced 1.08 billion liters of Ethanol and 0.24 Billion liters of Biodiesel in 2010. The main production systems were fermentation of Molasses to produce ethanol and chemical transformation of vegetable oils to produce Biodiesel. Mr. Devashish Ohri, Managing Director - South Asia, Invitrogen BioServices (100% subsidiary of Life Technologies Inc. US) says: The challenge with these processes is that their growth and scalability risks eating into arable land, often fueling a debate on food security.
Bio-fuel research using genetic engineering holds the key to resolving this debate. Engineering microorganisms to convert complex feed stocks into Bio-fuel holds tremendous promise. Algae have recently received a lot of attention as a new biomass source for production of renewable energy. Many Algae have high biomass yield per unit of light and area, high oil and starch content and most importantly, they do not require agricultural land for cultivation and can be grown in waste or saline water. It has been documented that Microalgae can provide different types of renewable fuels. This includes Methane produced by anaerobic digestion of algal biomass, biodiesel from algal oil and photo synthetically produced bio-hydrogen.
Dr. Deepa Shankar, R&D Head, Invitrogen BioServices says: Choosing the right algal strain for lipid and starch production leading to downstream oil extraction is a key to developing an economically viable process. Advances in synthetic biology tools and technologies help in identifying the fuel rich strains and development of micro algae. Genomic and transcriptome sequencing and annotation provide key insights into the genetic information within the algal strain. This data allows scientists to further genetically refine these target strains to produce the desired lipids for oil extraction.
The economics of producing micro-algal biodiesel need to improve substantially to make it competitive to Petro-diesel appears now to be attainable. Producing low cost biodiesel primarily requires improvement to algal biology through Genomics, transcriptomics and metabolic tools, producing algae with richer lipid content. Further the extraction of this fuel necessitates acceleration of the in Photo bioreactor engineering, to make algal bio-fuels a reality.
Researchers acknowledge Jatropha and other non-food feed-stocks will be a vast source of bio-fuel and a key to reducing our dependence on fossil fuel as it can replace jet fuel and diesel from petroleum without interfering with food crops or leading to the clearing of forests.
From medicinal use to bio-fuel, the relatively small seeds of the Jatropha curcas are found not only resistant to drought & pests & able to thrive in locations not desirable for food crops, these oil packed, non-edible seeds are a high yielding & low cost source for next generation Bio-fuels.
Mr. Ohri further adds: Life Technologies & SG Biofuels Inc. have completed genome sequencing the Jatropha curcas genome to 100x coverage, using the SOLiD 4 System. The sequence significantly accelerates the identification of Key trails for the oilseeds-producing crop and advances its development, because science fuels hope for a sustainable tomorrow'.
India's need for this technology is critical to ensure growth and sustainable energy to its teaming millions. Government has initiated various efforts through its bio-fuel policy, which mandates Zero excise duty for bio-fuels and an autonomous board for integrated development of Jatropha cultivation and bio-diesel oil.
The private sector and the government are working in tandem - 'Improving Life by harvesting bio-fuel'.
Issued by: Life Technologies