IIT Kharagpur launches ‘PK Sinha Center for BioEnergy’

India's First Integrated Bioenergy Center

Online PR News – 19-January-2010 – – Mumbai, January, 2010: The ‘PK Sinha Center for BioEnergy’ was launched at the hands of the Founder Dr. Prabhakant Sinha, Founder and Co-Chairman, ZS Associates and IIT Kharagpur alumnus in the presence Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Honorable Union Minister for New & Renewable Energy through a video conferencing at the IIT Kharagpur campus on 5th January 2010. With the world facing significant challenges on the energy and climatic front, Bioenergy has the unique potential of not only being an important source of renewable energy but also a cost-effective alternative to distributed generation and local consumption. Besides reducing the carbon footprint, Bioenergy will help in enhancing the income of villagers and rural communities. IIT KGP has been working on Bio-fuels research for several decades. It has the ambition of leap-frogging into the next generation with the launching of the PK Sinha Center for BioEnergy with seed funding of Rs. 10 crores from Dr. Prabhakant Sinha, an illustrious alumnus of the Institute.

Also present at the launch was Professor Damodar Acharya, Director, IIT Kharagpur and global luminaries -Prof. Chris Somerville Director, Energy Biosciences Institute, University of California, Berkeley World Leader in Bioenergy R&D, Luuk Van der Wielen, Scientific Director B-BASIC and Arjun Malhotra, CEO and Chairman, Headstrong and IIT KGP alumnus.

Recent international studies including those by the United Nations show that India’s population is estimated to overtake China’s by 2030 and shall reach 1.6 billion by 2050. Rapid urbanization will increase India’s demand for oil by 70% in the next 20 years. Infact, India is likely to consume one-third of the global energy by 2050. Since India’s increasing dependence on foreign oil is a high energy security risk, as well as not climate-friendly, addressing India’s energy demand and supply equation is of strategic importance to India and the world. Thus, a national Bioenergy program is of great importance for India as it could also be the answer to issues like land use, food vs. energy, and global warming. Bioenergy is poised to play a critical role in building capacity, fueling innovation, and accelerating sustainable development in India and the region.

With this in mind the BioEnergy Centre at IIT Kharagpur is envisioned to accelerate research, education and innovation in this important field. It will bring interdisciplinary expertise of IIT Kharagpur faculty to bear, and establish collaborations in India and around the world. This center will provide a unique opportunity to apply an integrated and collaborative approach to solve energy, climate change and economic challenges. The center’s faculty members are currently working in the areas of Bio-ethanol, Bio-diesel, Bio-hydrogen, Algal and Microbial Biofuels and genetic prospecting of energy crops.

The Center’s activities include knowledge in action by partnering with the government, commercial organizations, knowledge dissemination through academia, industry and policy makers. Talent development and attraction and retention of bright faculty and researchers would be one of its major goals.

IIT Kharagpur (IIT KGP) is ideally positioned to facilitate the Bioenergy center, with its strengths in core engineering and science disciplines. It is the only IIT that has all the relevant expertise in agricultural engineering, biotechnology, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, entrepreneurship, and IP Law. It is also the only IIT which has expertise in plant genetics and biology and has access to land for plantings experimentation – big assets for Bioenergy research. With its faculty and students having demonstrated success in interdisciplinary research and public service - core competencies required in the Bioenergy research.

Speaking at the launch Professor Damodar Acharya, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur said, “IIT KGP is proud to be the only IIT to have a multidisciplinary BioEnergy Center. The center will spur innovation and entrepreneurship amongst faculty and students, draw world-class researchers to join as faculty, win more research grants, attract talented B.Tech students to pursue a PhD at IIT Kharagpur, and make a significant impact in alternative energy, climate change and rural development in India”.

The center endeavors to attract the brightest minds in the field of Bioenergy through its global affiliations with renowned scientists like Prof. Chris Somerville, Director of the Energy Biosciences Institute who leads a team of top researchers affiliated with the EBI - a partnership between BP, the University of California, Berkeley; the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and the University of Illinois and Luuk Van der Wielen, Scientific Director B-BASIC (B-Basic is a consortium of universities, research institutions and industry) a private-public consortium for Biobased Sustainable Industrial Chemistry, a focused program within the Netherlands Research Council (NWO-ACTS), who have come onboard as external advisors. This is in addition to IIT KGP’s exciting collaboration with the University of California at Berkeley, the world leader in Bioenergy research.

Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Honorable Union Minister for New & Renewable Energy commended the initiative taken by IIT Kharagpur and Dr. Prabhakant Sinha in setting up the Center. He particularly appreciated the fact that the objectives of the Center are clearly aligned with the Government’s new policy of bio-fuels and promised all support for its success. He also briefly outlined the National Solar Mission and invited the technological experts of the country to actively support the Government in reaching its objective of producing 20,000 MW of power from renewable sources by 2020.

Founder, PK Sinha Center of BioEnergy, Prabhakant Sinha said, “Being an alumnus of IIT KGP, I’m glad to have this opportunity to support the institution that has been instrumental in my success. The BioEnergy Center is the need of the hour in view of the energy crisis the global community is facing. The center will provide a unique opportunity to apply an integrated and collaborative approach to solve energy, climate change and economic challenges in one go”.

Added Amit Patra, Dean of Alumni Affairs and International Relations and Professor of Electrical Engineering, “We are very grateful to our alumni who have supported the institution through the years with their money and time. They have always risen to the challenge and that is what has kept IIT KGP in the forefront. We are all excited about the new center and are looking to working with corporates and other energy organizations to meet the country’s needs for bioenergy”.

For more information contact:
Prof. Amit Patra, Dean (Alumni Affairs and International Relations)
Email: deanaa@hijli.iitkgp.ernet.in