IIT Mandi researchers use orange peels to convert into biofuel

IIT Mandi researchers have employed hydrochar produced from orange peels as a catalyst to transform biomass-derived chemicals into biofuel precursors. The study will aid in the development of biomass-based fuels to address the socio-political instability caused by depleting petroleum supplies. The findings of the research which was led by Venkata Krishnan have been published recently in a journal ‘Green Chemistry’.

Biomass-derived products as energy source

After coal, oil, and natural gas, biomass-derived products from naturally occurring materials are currently India’s fourth most significant energy source for meeting its energy requirements.

By employing various methods, lignocellulosic biomass obtained from forestry and agricultural waste can be transformed into a number of useful chemicals.

The employment of catalysts for conversion is particularly advantageous among these technologies since such processes use little energy and the kind of product created from biomass can also be regulated.

Hydrochar as a catalyst

Hydrochar, which is typically obtained by heating biomass waste in the presence of water via a carbonization process, is the simplest and most low-cost catalyst studied by researchers.

Researchers from IIT Mandi used orange peels to catalyse the conversion of biomass-derived chemicals into biofuel precursors by heating dried orange peel powder with citric acid under pressure in a hydrothermal reactor for several hours.

Why is the research significant?

  • This is the first comparative research to look at the three different forms of acid functionalization.
  • To gain deeper insights into the catalytic activity of sulfonic, nitrate and phosphate functionalized hydrochar derived from orange peels, researchers performed green metric calculations and temperature programmed desorption.
  • Biofuel precursors were produced under solventless and low temperature conditions, thereby decreasing the overall cost while making it environmentally friendly.
  • The discovery of such biomass conversion catalysts also bodes well for the country’s biofuel economy.

Source: India Today

Tags: Biofuels, Biomass, Hydrochar, IIT Mandi, Orange peels
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