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Bioenergy Programme: New Initiatives
Indo-US Joint Clean Energy Research and development Centre
The need for a paradigm shift in the bioenergy sector has been underlined in the Vision 2020 document, which now is the new compass for the Department of Biotechnology. That paradigm shift, however, means setting out brand new initiatives to run alongside the existing ones. The DBT has taken many major new initiatives in this sector to make it “proactive” rather than “reactive”, to quote from the landmark new Vision document.
Indo-US Joint Clean Energy Research and development Centre (JCERDC)
The JCERDC is a joint initiative of the Government of India (through DBT and the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology), and the US Department of Energy.
The overall aim of the JCERDC is to facilitate joint research and development on clean energy by teams of scientists, technologists and engineers from India and the United States, and related joint activities, needed to deploy clean energy technologies rapidly with the greatest impact.
This is a new and unique initiative of both governments to set up a joint bilateral virtual Centre through a joint call, review, funding and management. Under this program both counties have supported multi-institutional network projects in following three thrust areas using public-private partnership model of funding.
  • Solar Energy
  • Second Generation Biofuels
  • Energy Efficiency of Buildings
  • The consortium of Second Generation Biofuel comprises
  • India (9 Academic Institutions + 2 Industry Partners)
  • U.S. (5 Academic Institutions + 2 Industry Partners)
The progress of this consortium is being reviewed by the Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) constituted by Govt. of India.
Recently, the joint Consortia members presented progress made under on each above area during the Indo-US Energy Dialogue, was held on March11, 2014. The Dialogue was co-chaired by Dr. Montek Singh Ahuwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission and Dr. Emest Noniz, Secretary U.S. Department of Energy.
The programme is being Co-ordinated by Department for Govt. of India and administered by the Indo-US S&T Forum (IUSSTF). For more details about JCERDC.
DBT-BBSRC Bioenergy Workshop
The DBT-BBSRC Bioenergy Workshop was organised by DBT India and BBSRC, UK in October, 2011 and various priority areas were identified in biofuel sector by scientists from both the countries. A joint call for proposals was initiated International Cooperation Division and four joint projects under microalgae, algae and advanced biofuel research have been sanctioned for support from both funding agencies.
International Bioenergy Summit
International Bioenergy Summit was organised jointly by Department of Biotechnology and TERI at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on 5th and 6th November, 2012. The summit was attended by eminent scientists from India and abroad. The major themes of the Bioenergy summit were production of biofuel from Algae and synthetic biology interventions in the area of biofuel and bioenergy. In the Bioenergy summit bioenergy road map document “Vision 2020” was released by the Hon’ble Minister S&T, Shri Jaipal S. Reddy. The document was also circulated among the scientists and research scholars who attended the summit. The vision 2020 document envisages to create Biotechnology enterprise equipped with viable green and clean technologies for achieving Bioenergy Security.
Indo- US Workshop on “Cyanobacteria- Molecular Networks to biofuels”
The workshop was jointly organised by Prof. Pramod P. Wangikar IIT Bombay, and Prof. Louis A. Sherman, Purdue University, USA. at the Lagoona Resort, Lonavala, India. December 16-20, 2012.
The workshop revolved around cyanobacteria as platform for biofuel production with a few presentations also on eukaryotic micro-algae. The presentations covered diverse topics that included: cyanobacteria and micro algae as platforms for biofuel production; the molecular mechanisms for carbon and nitrogen fixation in cyanobacteria; annotation of novel metabolic and genetic networks; conversion of fixed carbon dioxide to biofuels including drop-in fuels and other high value products; the carbon concentration mechanism in cyanobacteria; high cell density cultivation; genomic and proteomic studies; studies on cyanobacterial circadian rhythms; metabolic flux analysis; photosynthetic efficiencies of cyanobacteria; isolation and characterisation of cyanobacteria and micro algae from diverse and extreme habitats; photo-regulation and photo-protection mechanisms, and genetic engineering in cyanobacteria and micro algae. The papers from the work presented at this workshop publication in a special issue entitled “Cyanobacterial Networks” of an internationally reputed journal, Photosynthesis Research.
Other initiatives
Development and demonstration of biorefinary technology for low cost biofuel with zero waste.
  • Algal-based biorefinery
  • Biobutanol-based biorefinery
  • Biodiesel based biorefinery
Synthetic biology & metabolic engineering for development of biofuels
It is increasingly realised that synthetic biology can be put to novel applications to manufacture ‘unnatural’ molecules through microbial or enzymatic transformations.
Engineering of microorganisms genetically recombined to produce most chemicals and biofuels. The department has been looking forward to promote research in
  • Study synthetic and metabolic pathways to produce the target biochemicals
  • Genes encoding on specific enzymes required in the pathways must be understood and candidate strains possessing such genes must be identified
  • Host organisms suitable for the production of biofuels/ biochemicals must be identified
  • The tools and techniques for inserting such genes and pathways into host organisms must be developed
Biobutanol Network Programme
The department has already supported various R&D projects for biobutanol production and various leads have been obtained.
However, in order to understand the issues and gaps in scale-up, a network programme has been conceptualised.
Life Cycle Assessment Study (LCA)
LCA methodology can be applied to the renewable energy products and process for assessment of environmental impact of the developmental projects.
LCA study can provide more reliable and comprehensive information in selecting sustainable products and processes.
Net energy gain (NEG) the difference between total energy output and total energy input is one of the accepted indices for analysing energy efficiency, similarly ratio of total energy output to total energy input (NER) reflects the energy efficiency of the process.
Biomass energy plus fuel cells (FCs)
Developments are required to see regular and commercially viable application of FC systems with respect to the techno-economic issues in fuel pre-treatment and FC integration, improve efficiencies with greater flexibility, clean up systems.
Fuel processing systems will be further developed to increase efficiencies. Reforming technologies have largely been proven from a technical standpoint, but are not yet economical.

Contact Officers

Divisional Head Dr.Renu Swarup
Scientist `G’/ Adviser In-charge
Telephone: 011-24360064
Email: swarup[at]dbt[dot]nic[dot]in

Programme Officer

Dr.Sangita Kasture
Scientist ‘D’ / Principal Scientific Officer
Telephone: 011-24365438
Email: sangita[dot]kasture[at]nic[dot]in