GUWAHATI: An Egyptian research scholar studying at Assam’s Tezpur University, Khalifa Said, has achieved a major breakthrough by producing biodiesel, using waste biomass like leaves of radish and sweet potato as catalysts. TU researchers claimed that this new chemical process will significantly reduce the cost of the production of biofuel.

The innovative work has been published recently in international science journals, ‘Renewable Energy’ and ‘Industrial Crops and Products’. Khalifa under the supervision of Manabendra Mandal and co-supervision of Dhanapati Deka of TU published the papers.

“Our primary intention is to stop climate change. Biodiesel, which is a renewable source, was being manufactured from vegetable oils, but our study is different as it has shown the way for use of waste biomass of vegetable leaves,” said Khalifa.

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Mandal said day-to-day food items such as used cooking oil, thrown away by households and restaurants as waste, can be used as feedstock for producing biodiesel at a much lower cost. “Agricultural wastes are promising sources for producing renewable and sustainable clean energies,” he said.

Biodiesel is usually produced by causing a reaction between triglyceride feedstock (oil feedstock) and alcohol in the presence of a catalyst to form the fatty acid methyl ester (biodiesel) and glycerol as a byproduct. Khalifa used triglyceride feedstock sourced from microalgae oil, which can reduce greenhouse gas emission and waste cooking oil. Further, his team has sourced the catalyst from the waste leaves of radish and sweet potato.

Deka said, “Bio-based systems for the production of chemicals and energy can substitute conventional sources. Thus, it can help in reducing climate change possibilities.”

Currently, the techno-economical analysis of the project is under way to determine the actual cost of the production of biodiesel. Khalifa said he is planning to apply this process of low-cost biodiesel production on a large scale in his home country Egypt in collaboration with TU and the Indian authorities.

Niran Daimary and Dolijit Borah, both research scholars of TU and co-authors of the papers, said, “The study emphasizes waste valorization for sustainable energy production by utilizing locally available biowaste,” said Daimary.

Khalifa started working on this project in October 2019, but the research slowed down due to the pandemic. The laboratory was closed for months. Khalifa’s team used the lab facilities of TU and also the North East Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST), Jorhat, for analysis.





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