Kerala initiates feasibility study for Jharkhand-model extraction of biodiesel from algae

Shine Mohan

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New Delhi: The Kerala government has initiated a feasibility study for Jharkhand model extraction of biodiesel from algae.

The study has been initiated with African algae seen in the state. The collection of algae, processing and packing are progressing at Catholicate College,Pathanamthitta.

The next phase of the study will be held at Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) and in Jharkhand.

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Mathrubhumi had published a story about an engineer named Vishal Prasad Gupta hailing from Jharkhand and his project of extracting biodiesel from algae. The 42-year-old has opened a pump in Ranchi to distribute the biodiesel developed from algae. He sells biodiesel with a discount of Rs 10 per litre compared to normal diesel. If production is on large scale, the price can be reduced further. Biodiesel ensures better fuel efficiency and is also carbon neutral. Gupta has pinpointed that Kerala is an ideal place for biodiesel production because of the high presence of water resources and favourable climate.

Following the report, Finance Minister KN Balagopal, had informed the government that it will go ahead with the project if the extraction is scientifically possible and economically feasible.

At present, a six-member expert committee is involved in the feasibility study. The committee has been headed by Dr PV Unnikrishnan, member secretary of Kerala Development and Innovation Strategy Council (K-DISC). It is learnt that the committee will submit the preliminary report before the members’ conference on June 8.

The study at Catholicate College has been headed by Dr Binoy T Thomas. After this phase, KAU will have a review.

KAU will be sending the samples collected from African algae in Alappuzha to Jharkhand for the extraction. The climate compatibility of each sample will be evaluated.

The committee compromises Dr K Surendra Gopal (chief) and Dr Shaji James of KAU, K-DISC’s program executive V Athira (convenor), Catholicate College’s Dr Binoy T Thomas, Thrissur Engineering Colleges Dr PA Solomon and University of Groningen's (Netherlands) Prof PV Aravind.

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