Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Science & Technology
17-April-2015 20:13 IST
Railways to set up Plants for Converting Plastic to Diesel

Dr Harsh Vardhan says India is Ahead in R&D on Alternative Fuels

Indian Railways is soon to set up plants to manufacture diesel for mechanical traction with technology patented by scientists at the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP) here.

Announcing this in Dehradun today, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science and Technology and Vice President, CSIR, laid out the roadmap for further exploitation of opportunities in alternative fuel sources. The country’s premier research establishment in hydrocarbons has achieved significant success in reducing national dependence on fossil fuels.

“I have myself campaigned on the streets of Delhi against pollution and plastic proliferation. Today, I am glad to announce that diesel conforming to Euro-5 specifications in sulphur content has become a reality thanks to the CSIR-IIP & GAIL’s diligence and ingenuity,” he said.

The rapid decision to embrace the technology by the world’s largest railway network, Indian Railways, speaks volumes for the Narendra Modi government’s resolve to apply out-of-the-box ideas to reduce India’s carbon footprint. The Minister remarked: “United States President Barack Obama has described Shri Modi as India’s reformer-in-chief. This is not surprising.”

CSIR-IIP, which is part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is currently blazing the trail in offering solutions to global warming. Reducing India’s high dependence on imports and sparing the fossil fuels for the future generations constitute the major focus of its present R&D thrust. He said, “At the inauguration of the Indian Science Congress in Mumbai in January, I had stated our government’s resolve not to be distracted by falling oil prices by continuing to fund R&D into clean energy. I had CSIR-IIP in mind at the time because I was confident that the time when I could announce to the world this amazing news was drawing near.”

The Minister elaborated: “We are the first to have the capability to convert 1 tonne of broken buckets, mugs, toothpaste tubes, bottle caps and other Polyolefins products into 850 litres of the cleanest grade of diesel. This is the best news yet for the planet this year because henceforth plastic waste will be viewed more as a resource than a nuisance.”

The Minister, who visited the IIP’s campus, inaugurated the Advanced Triblogy Research Centre. He was accompanied by Dr M.O.Garg, Director-General of CSIR who is also the Director of the prestigious establishment. Dr Sudeep Kumar, Head, PPD of CSIR and other scientists were also present.

Jet fuel from Jatropha

Another feather in CSIR-IIP’s cap is the successful project to produce low-carbon jet fuel from the inedible, drought-resistant Jatropha plant. This has already captured the imagination of several governments worldwide.

Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “We have gone several steps ahead in developing alternative sources of jet fuel. Jatropha apart, CSIR-IIP has the knowledge to make jet fuel out of any non-edible oil –even the waste cooking oil from our kitchens is soon to become prized material in the market.”

The Minister, who has initiated several renewable energy missions in the national capital –including a project to run public toilets with solar power-fuelled taps, exhaust fans and lights – said “We must make a social movement out of alternative fuel use. Our cultural heritage has been one of the most environment friendly. Our villagers have used cowdung cakes as a fuel source for thousands of years. In recent decades we had been following the mad path of over-consumption. Now, thanks to our scientists we can revert to our original mindset of preservation.”

While moving fast with alternative fuels, CSIR-IIP has continued with its founding mission of developing cleaner forms of fossil fuels. This has led to the development of world class sweetening catalyst which helps to remove excessive foul smelling mercaptans from LPG. After capturing the Indian market, recently 600 Kg of this new material hit the international market”, Dr Harsh Vardhan announced.

The Minister remarked that the advanced training courses on Petroleum Refining and Petrochemicals which have been run by the institute right from inception for the Indian hydrocarbon sector has made a major impact on human resource development. He stressed on the importance of imparting necessary skills to operate and optimize plant operations at the international level.

“Energy and environment are two side of the same coin”, he pointed out. “I urge our scientists to constantly strive to develop new technologies and products with zero defect and zero effect which can help to produce a higher GDP per unit of energy consumed. India must be at the forefront of fighting climate change. We would thus help realise the vision of our Hon’ble Prime Minister and President, CSIR.”