Ph.D, Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Ethanol-Blended-Petrol (EBP) has E3 benefits viz. Economic, Environmental and Energy. India implemented 5% EBP in 2002, proposed to increase to 10% EBP in 2009 and further increase to 20% EBP by 2017. Molasses based ethanol is the only source for ethanol in India. Decline in sugar production in 2008-09 severely affected molasses-ethanol production. Current ethanol production from molasses could meet 5% EBP. To achieve higher ethanol blending other sources are need for ethanol production. Non-food plant sources such as cellulosic plant biomass and sorghum juice are the promising sources to produce bioethanol for EBP program. Our research is focused on process development for economical production of fuel-ethanol from crop residues and sorghum juice.
Functional Oligosaccharides (FOS)
FOS are oligosaccharides with specific physiological functions beyond the basic nutrition. Because of the increasing health problems, caused by stress at work, environmental pollution and unbalanced food in recent days, there have been concerns over functional foods to maintain good health. FOS have lower sweetness than sucrose, high viscosity, low calorific value, resist hydrolysis in gastrointestinal tract and stimulate the proliferation of probiotics, Bifidobacterium sp. and Lactobacillus sp. We are developing economic process for FOS production from plant biomass using enzymes.
Molecular Bioremediation of Cr(VI)
Environmental pollution due to industrialization is the major concern. Heavy metal pollution is a serious issue and chromium is one of the highly toxic metal pollutants. Chromium is emitted to environment from several industrial processes including nuclear power generation. Cr at hexavalent oxidation state is highly toxic to living systems. An efficient way of preventing Cr(VI) pollution is its reduction to Cr(III) which is much less toxic. Biocatalysts such as bacteria and enzymes have the capacity to detoxify Cr(VI) by conversion to Cr(III). Molecular techniques can be employed to improve the bioremediation potential of biocatalysts for application in actual polluted sites. Current research in our lab involves isolation and engineering of enzymes for transformation of Cr(VI) to Cr(III).