Fuel from Weed: IIT Kharagpur Research gives boost to Biofuel production

The lush flowery green water- hyacinth is a common view across the length and breadth of India growing in lakes, dams and irrigation channels without any intervention. This weed – which contains up to 50% hemicelluloses –can now be used as an economic and abundant source of biofuel, thanks to researchers at IIT Kharagpur. Hemicelluloses are natural polymers present along with cellulose in almost all plant cell walls. The key to producing commercially viable, low carbon footprint biofuels is to supplement cellulosic ethanol with hemicellulosic alcohols.While cellulose is used for cellulosic fuel production, hemicelluloses are often ignored as biofuel sources, primarily because surface reactions are capable of releasing only one-quarter of the soluble sugars from the hemicellulose matrix for bioethanol production.

Chemical engineers at IIT Kharagpur have uncovered the pore-scale phenomena that result in fourfold increase in the yields of fermentable sugars and bi