Indian ministry test-drives diesel vehicle on algae-derived B100

By Ron Kotrba | April 02, 2012

The Indian Ministry of Science and Technology announced the government’s first test-run of 100 percent algae-derived biodiesel in a Chevrolet Tavera, a diesel multi-utility vehicle made by General Motors for the Indian market. The event took place March 30.

Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh, minister of Science and Technology and vice president of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, flagged-off the 200-kilometer test-run of a Tavera fueled by 100 percent algae-derived biodiesel from CSIR Headquarters in New Delhi. CSIR Director General, Prof. Samir K. Brahmachari, Ministry of Earth Sciences Secretary, Shailesh Nayak, were both present.

The fuel was produced from a marine microalgal strain cultivated in a solar saltpan.

The endeavor is the outcome of a project initiated in April 2010 under the CSIR-New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Earth Sciences, which seeks to develop a scalable process for production of biofuel from marine microalgae.

Last year, a Tavera under full-load condition was successfully test-driven on B20 biodiesel made from mats of marine microalgae found growing naturally in the west coast of India.

“This development is very important for us, as fossil fuels are depleting day by day,” the ministry stated. “With growing demand of liquid fuels for transportation purpose and concerns around fossil fuels, the CSIR-NMITLI project is of much importance. However, considerable efforts will be required to move up the learning curve to make such fuel available on large scale at affordable price.”

Scientists from nine partnering institutions across the country, such as Andhra University, Vishakhapatnam; Calcutta University, Kolkata; CSIR-Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhavnagar; CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad; Indian Institute of Technology, Khargpur; CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune; CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography, Goa; National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai; and CSIR-National Institute of Interdisciplinary Science & Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, are participating in the effort.

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