For some years now, bio fuels have been seen as an environmentally sound way of reducing dependence on fast depleting fossil fuels. With commercially driven research in bio-fuels, IndianOil’s R&D Centre is in the league of front line institutions engaged in such work. Due to the fact that the first generation of biofuels such as biodiesel could not gain commercial scale in the country due to non-availability of feedstock like Jatropha and Karanjia in sufficient quantities, the DBT began to consider developing second generation biofuels from agricultural wastes. It decided to set up a centre for Centre for Energy Biosciences at Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai in 2008. However, drawing lessons from the experience of other countries such as the United States, DBT soon realized that the country needed more than one dedicated centre to simultaneously work on various aspects of commercialization of biomass to biofuel.
Fired by the passion to convert the green dream to reality in the country, IndianOil agreed to set up a centre for advanced bio-energy research (BERC). As Director (R&D), Dr. RK Malhotra gave shape to this ambition, wings to the dreams and power to the teams. This centre was set up as a result of vision and efforts of Dr. M. K. Bhan, Secretary DBT and Dr. Renu Swarup, Advisor DBT, and functions under the dynamic leadership of Dr. RK Malhotra, Director (R&D), IndianOil. The projects and technical programmes at the Centre are coordinated by Dr. D K Tuli.
The major thrust of the centre is to develop and deploy viable 2nd generation biofuel technologies. The centre is under administrative control of Director(R&D) IOC, has a Governing Council, headed by Secretary, DBT & Chairman IOC and is guided by an expert Scientific Advisory committee. Funding for this centre is shared equally by DBT and IOC. The state-of-the–art building for this centre was inaugurated by Secretary, MoP&NG in July 2013. The centre labs and cellulosic ethanol pilot plant were dedicated to the nation by Secretary, DBT in March 2014. IOC R&D is providing all logistic and other necessary supports for the functioning of the centre. The major objective of this centre is to leverage the commercial strength of IOC for commercialization of advanced bio-fuel technologies. While IOC will utilize in-house chemical engineering strengths, technology package will come from partnership with other two DBT centres at ICT Mumbai (www.ceb.org.in ) and ICGEB, New Delhi (www.icgeb.org).