Aimed for Alternative

The fossil fuel availability is not indefinite as it is depleting very fast due to reckless consumption. The Stock, built over millions of years, is likely to last for another 40 to 50 years. The increasing demand, sky-rocketing price, volatile Gulf region and monopoly of super powers force us to search for an alternative source of fossil fuel. It is need of the hour to have a disseminated reserve stock of sustainable substitute of petro-fuel, that is, bio-fuel.

As many as 20 countries are producing approximately 3.50 million metric tons of bio-diesel per year as estimated in 2005. The major bio-diesel producers are Germany, France, US and Denmark. These countries are using edible oils like rapeseed, soyabean, sunflower, palm etc. In the year 2006-07, India required 52.50 million metric tons of petro diesel which will be increasing to about 67 million metric tons by the end of 11th Plan. The domestic supply is in a position to cater for only about 22 per cent of the total requirement. Serious attempts need to be made to reduce dependence on imports and seek alternatives. In the country, nearly 50 per cent of the geographical area is either waste or degraded which can be well-used for cultivation of bio-fuel plants. As per report, the short term target is to replace five per cent petro-diesel by 2012 and 10 per cent by 2017.

To overcome the national energy problem and to have an indigenous alternative source of energy, "DRDO-Army Bio-Diesel Programme" was sanctioned under the direction of Dr W Selvamurthy, Chief Controller Research and Development, DRDO. Programme Director is Dr Zakwan Ahmed, Director of Defence Agriculture Research Laboratory, Pithoragarh. The programme is in participation of DRDO laboratories like DRDE, Gwalior, FRL, Leh, DMS RDE, Kanpur and VRDE, Ahmednagar with the objectives of jatropha oil enhancement through genetic engineering. Academia, industries and Army departments are also partners.

Minister of State for Defence, Mr M M Pallam Raju witnessed the ongoing "DRDO-Army Bio-Diesel Programe” at Military Farm, Secunderabad. He showed keen interest in making this programme viable. During the steering committee meeting under the Chairmanship of the Minister, Director and scientist of all laboratories, academia, industries and Army departments were present to review the progress and speedy futuristic plan.

On the occasion, Dr Mohd Arif, Scientist D, Jatropha Project, DARL informed that the jatropha cultivation is in speedy state in Military Farms at Secunderabad, Mhow and Ahmednagar and so far 300 hectors land has been planted. Trans-easterification plant is under installation in collaboration with CSMCRI, Bhawnagar.

-N V Nagarajan

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Mr MM Pallam Raju sharing ideas with Dr Zakwan Ahmed (centre)
and Dr W Selvamurthy