Tezpur University

An international research scholar of Tezpur University from Alexandria in Egypt, Khalifa Said, has successfully produced biodiesel from residual food items such as cooking oil waste and the leaves of radish and sweet potato.

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This new and innovative chemical process has significantly reduced the cost of the production of biofuel, an issue scientists around the globe have been exploring gravely.

Khalifa under the supervision of Manabendra Mandal, department of MBBT, Tezpur University and co-supervision of Dhanapati Deka, department of energy at Tezpur University published papers on this process in reputed science journals such as Renewable Energy (IF:8.634) and Industrial Crops and Products (IF: 6.449).

“Our primary intention is to stop climate change,” said Khalifa.

“Day-to-day food items such as used cooking oil, thrown away by households and restaurants as waste, can be used as feedstock for producing biodiesel at a much lower cost,” Khalifa added.

Khalifa’s supervisor Manabendra Mandal said: “Agricultural wastes are promising sources for producing renewable and sustainable clean energies.”

Generally, biodiesel is produced by the reaction between triglyceride feedstock and alcohol in the presence of a catalyst to form the fatty acid methyl ester (biodiesel) and glycerol. Khalifa changed the feedstock oil and catalyst in the chemical process to reduce the cost of the production of biodiesel.

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He treated residual cooking oil and algae oil, which are then used as feedstock oil. Microalga is a great proponent of greenhouse gas reduction and can also be cultivated in wastewater. Calcination of the leaves of radish and sweet potato, rich in potassium, resulted in the desired catalyst.

“Bio-based systems for the production of chemicals and energy can substitute conventional sources. Thus, it can help in reducing the climate change possibilities,” co-supervisor Dhanapati Deka said.

Niran Daimary, PhD student of Tezpur University and co-author of the published papers said: “The study emphasizes waste valorization for sustainable energy production by utilizing locally available biowaste.”

Dolijit Borah, PhD student of Tezpur University and another co-author added: “Microalgae has the potential to replace petroleum and help to mitigate climate change. However, it needs multidisciplinary research emphasis to make microalgal technology commercially viable.”

Khalifa started working on this project in October 2019, but his work was affected and slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic. He used the facilities of the department of energy, Tezpur University for his experiments, and the Sophisticated Analytical Instrumentation Centre (SAIC), Tezpur University and North East Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST), Jorhat for analysis.

Currently, the techno-economical analysis of the project is underway to determine the actual cost of the production of biodiesel. Khalifa plans to apply this process of low-cost biodiesel production on a large scale in his home country Egypt in collaboration with Tezpur University and Indian authorities.

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