Ahmedabad, Jul 14, 2011

Researchers have run a car on B-20 biodiesel derived from marine micro algae.

Under the New Millennium India Technology Leadership project (NMITLI), a regular diesel vehicle, Tavera, under full load condition, was successfully test driven on B-20 biodiesel (20 per cent biodiesel blend) on July 10, a top official of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) said today.

MULTI project was initiated last year jointly by CSIR and the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), along with researchers from nine institutions, including CSMCRI, IIT-Kharagpur, IICT Hyderabad, NIOT Chennai and NIO Goa.  The biodiesel was prepared from mats of microalgae found growing naturally in the West coast of India by the Bhavnagar-based Central Salt Marine and Chemical Research Institute (CSMCRI).

The mileage achieved by the test drive was 12.4l/km, which is better than the normal average per litre of 10-11 km of the regular vehicles run on petroleum diesel, the official said. “The aim of the project is to develop a scalable viable process for production of bio-fuel from marine algae. In the first step, road worthiness of B-20 marine micro algae biodiesel under full load conditions has been proven,” NMITLI coordinator Dr Vibha Malhotra told PTI on telephone.

“The next step will be to run the vehicle under full load conditions on B-100 (neat biodiesel) marine micro algae biodiesel and to look at its economic viability,” she said. “Although the demonstration aimed at proving road worthiness of micro-algal biodiesel, it remains to be seen whether such mat-forming marine micro algae can be cultivated inland or induced to grow rapidly and on large scale in the sea itself,” said CSMCRI Director Dr Pushpito Ghosh.  “A number of other marine micro-algae strains are being investigated under the project especially those having high lipid productivity,” he said.

The present target for both blending of ethanol with gasoline and biodiesel with petroleum diesel is 5% per the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

An indicative target of 20 per cent blending of bio-fuels, both for bio-diesel and bio-ethanol, by 2017 is proposed by the national policy. The NMITLI project is significant as the use of bio-fuels has become compelling in view of the tightening automotive vehicle emission standards to curb air pollution.

“The production of bio-fuels must not affect food security and the micro-algal project gains significance on this count,” Ghosh said.