An Alternative Technology to Produce Biomass-Based Food Grade Flavors, Fuels and Value Added Chemicals

Students of Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Shelaka Gupta, Md. lmteyaz Alam, Tuhin S. Khan, Ejaz Ahmad, Fatima Jalid won the award for research work of An Alternative Technology to Produce Biomass-Based Food Grade Flavors, Fuels and Value Added Chemicals. They carried their project work under guidance of Prof. M. Ali Haider.

State-of-the-art technologies applied today to convert biomass into high value fuels and chemicals are based on multi-step catalytic transformation steps, which are difficult to commercialize. Here, as an alternative, a technology (TNEW) based on integrated bio and chemo-catalytic reactions is developed, to carry out the desired conversion of biomass in fewer steps, giving higher product yield. In TNEW, 6- amyl-alpha-pyrone (6PP) is identified as a potential biomass-derived platform chemical. 6PP is produced from the fermentation of waste biomass using Trichoderma species and catalytically converted into 2-nonene-4-one, hydric alcohol, δ-decalactone (DDL) etc., under relatively mild processing conditions. While DDL and 2-nonene-4-one showed direct applications as food flavor and aroma, other products may be used as precursors for polymers, pharmaceuticals and hydrocarbon fuels. Three Indian patent applications related to the commercial development have been filed. Socially, the simplistic nature of our technology is expected to have a wider impact on rural economy and environment. For example, at present large volume of waste lignocellulosic biomass is burnt in the national capital region of India, creating air pollution at alarming levels. Farmers burning such valuable biomass may choose to utilize TNEW and ferment the waste biomass directly to produce 6PP which can be subsequently converted to produce high value chemicals. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time in our country a novel biomass-derived platform chemical is introduced which is different from the top-12 chemicals proposed by the US Department of Energy. This will add into the portfolio of a futuristic bio-refinery, providing a renewable and sustainable solution.

The Hon’ble President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind awarded the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (BIRAC – GYTI) Award to Shelaka Gupta, Md. lmteyaz Alam, Tuhin S. Khan, Ejaz Ahmad, Fatima Jalid, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi at the GYTI 2018 Awards function held at Rashtrapati Bhawan on March 19, 2018.

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