With India exploring and using different clean energy alternatives to lower its carbon footprints, biofuel from algae of marine origin could be one of the low-emission solutions in the country in near future. Indian scientists, under the INSPIRE programme of ministry of science and technology, have developed low-cost biodiesel from microalgae. The Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (Inspire) is an innovative programme sponsored and managed by the ministry for attracting talents to research and innovation.
  1. The ministry on 24 August 2020 claimed in a statement that the "use of microalgae has been strongly considered for the production of biofuels since they present a series of advantages over other biofuel feedstock".
  2. Different types of biofuels that have been explored in India include molasses, agriculture residue, sugar-containing edible sources like sugarcane and sorghum, starch-containing sources like corn, edible oil seeds and cassava, and non-edible oilseeds like Jatropha.
  3. The technique to use microalgae is developed by a team of scientists led by T Mathimani from the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Tiruchirappalli.
  4. Referring to the technique, the ministry said Mathimani and his team have isolated predominant strains of marine microalgal species from the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu for their potential in terms of total organic carbon content and Triacylglycerides(TAG) content for biodiesel production.
  5. The group will formulate a roadmap by which biodiesel can be produced commercially and can be put in an energy market sustainably.
  6. Though algae is being exploited as a third generation feedstock for the production of biofuels such as bioethanol, biodiesel, biogas, and biohydrogen in different countries, it does not reach a successful peak due to the higher cost issues in cultivation, harvesting and extraction steps.
  7. Noting such limitations, the research paper of the scientists also presents an extensive detail of deriving biofuels from algal biomass from various viable algae cultivation systems.