Biofuel developed from non-edible waste seeds

IIT-Guwahati team also finds industrial use of chemicals from the discards

A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) has used an innovative method to produce biofuels from non-edible seeds.

The team has also found industrial applications for chemicals from the discards after extracting combustible oil from these seeds.

Kaustubha Mohanty, Professor of IIT-G’s Department of Chemical Engineering, said his team chose non-edible seeds of plants such as peela kaner, mahua, gulmohar and neem for the project in order to eliminate competition between food and fuel.

Their research focussing on the “low-cost pyrolyzer” they designed to derive the biofuels using certain catalysts was published in at least four journals such as Bioresource Technology and Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis.

The other members of his team were research students Ranjeet Kumar Mishra, Krushna P. Shadangi, Mithelesh Koul, Gautam Ganeshan and Gourav Chatterjee.

“These non-edible seeds had a high amount of oil in them, but with higher viscosity that remains to be overcome,” Dr. Mohanty said.

The bonus from the research was industrially valuable chemicals left in the seeds discarded after extracting their oil. One such remnant was hexadecanoic acid used in making soaps, cosmetic products and release agents.

“This is truly a waste-to-value operation,” Dr. Mohanty said, adding that his team also derived bio-oil from a mixture of waste plastics and waste biomass.

“The demand for biofuel is expected to increase in the future and it is certainly not sustainable to generate them from food sources,” he said.

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