Biotech students to produce alternate source of energy in Surat

Surat, May 29(ANI): In a bid to help cut down the price of fuel in the market by using waste material, some biotech students in Surat, Gujarat, are using water hyacinth to produce ethanol, which can be used as an alternate source of energy.

"Our objective of the project is to produce ethanol, which is a cheaper source of energy. Currently, ethanol is produced from grinds and sugarcane, but they are costing between 12-15 rupees per piece. We want to help cut down the price of fuel in the market, by using waste material, which is called Eichhornia (Water Hyacinth), which grows plenty in the wastewater and fresh water," said R.K. Krishnamurthy, a biotechnology professor.

"In another way it is creating pollution to the water bodies. We want to use those materials which is available at a throw away cost, it is freely available," he added.

Earlier this month, the Central government had announced an increase of five rupees in petrol prices across the nation.

Ethanol can be used as a fuel for heat and light, and also as a fuel for internal combustion engines.

According to researchers, water hyacinth may be considered as an invasive pest, however, could also be useful as a source of biomass, because of its abundance in hydrosphere.

Researchers collect samples of the aquatic plant, wash and then dry it overnight at high temperatures.

Dried samples of hyacinths are then crushed and treated with diluted Sulphuric acid and eventually fermented to ethanol using yeast.

According to them, the production of ethanol might lower the cost of escalating petrol prices.

Ethanol can be mixed with petrol in certain fixed ratios, and the resulting mixture can be used as a fuel to run vehicles.

Researchers also aim to help the state government by increasing production of the bio-fuel by next year.

"By 2012, we aim to increase the production of ethanol and reduce pollution by 10 percent in our area. Our target is to create as much as bio-ethanol and help the government," said Shweta Patel, a biotechnology student.

The largest single use of ethanol is as a motor fuel and fuel additive.

Ethanol also has widespread use as a solvent of substances intended for human contact or consumption, including scents, flavorings, colorings, and medicines.

In chemistry, it is both an essential solvent and a feedstock for the synthesis of other products.

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