I am a research scholar at the Centre for Sustainable Technologies, IISc, Bangalore. My current work revolves around the Sustainability Assessment of the Advanced Biofuel Value Chains for Transition from Fossil Fuels in the Indian Transport Sector. With about 95% of the total transportation energy requirement coming from fossil fuels, the Government of India has set ambitious targets to enable a transition to alternative fuels. Given these significant energy transitions occurring in the transportation sector, it is important and timely to perform the sustainability assessment of the biofuel value chain. My Ph.D. research aims to bridge gaps in existing knowledge by exploring the feasibility of achieving the second-generation biofuel transition by examining and optimizing the economic, environmental, and social performance along the value chain. The work also aims to develop multiple scenarios of biofuel integration, and their implications on sustainability, GHG mitigation, and the reduction of oil import dependencies. Insights from the results obtained from my research shall result in a comprehensive policy framework to enable a sustainable transition.
My core belief in biomass energy as a resource to enhance social sustainability was kindled during the 2nd year of my B-Tech at NIT, Bhopal, when I got involved with an NGO to provide low-cost energy solutions to villages situated inside Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh. A floating type biodigester was developed, producing biogas from cow dung, and subsequently burning in modified gas lamps to provide simplistic evening lighting solutions. This prototype won the best model award at Pehal – 2009, an inter-college competition held by NGO OASIS.
I pursued a master's degree from the Technical University of Berlin, Germany, following my bachelor's degree. During this time, my work on providing sustainable energy supply to El Gouna, Egypt, won the best paper award at the 4th DII Desert Energy Conference, held at Rabat, Morocco. My master's thesis addressed the techno-economic feasibility of installing a biomass-based centralized power and air conditioning system for a cluster of villages in Southern India, using dried cow dung as feedstock. Intending to engage with and benefit from our country's growing renewables industry, I returned to India following the completion of my master's degree. For about three years, I was responsible for the project management of solar PV projects in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, overseeing the installation and commissioning of over 80 MW of utility-scale and 1 MW of rooftop projects.
My interest in biofuel transition was stoked when I joined the Centre for Sustainable Technologies, IISc, Bangalore as a Project Associate, in July 2019. Here, I had the opportunity to work on the downdraft biomass gasification system developed at the Combustion, Gasification, and Propulsion Laboratory (CGPL), and investigate this technology to produce downstream fuels. With the upstream processes playing an important role in the life-cycle sustainability, I decided to focus on feedstock enhancement, leading to the design of a straw torrefaction system. The novelty of the system is its ability to torrefy as-received straw bale without the need for pre-processing. It also reduces the energy requirement for further processing of straw (pelletization). The patent for this design is in progress.