Biological sciences have assumed increasing technological importance over the last three four decades and are replacing their chemical partners in all sectors of life. However, translating developments in biological sciences into technological advantages requires specialized technological and engineering inputs. The DBT-ICT Centre of Energy Biosciences (DBT-ICT-CEB) is the first Energy Biosciences centre in India and the only one of its kind with an integrated basic and translational science capabilities, and where basic sciences meet technology and amalgamates with each other to add a new dimension to Bioprocess Technology and Bioengineering. DBT-ICT-CEB is a unique place for integrated research in biological sciences funded by The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, India. The Centre established in December 2008 at total initial cost of about equivalent of USD 5 million at the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) at Matunga, Mumbai, which itself is a deemed University under Section 3 of UGC Act 1956.
The Centre is focussed primarily at developing biotechnologies for deriving energy from renewable resources for reducing India’s rising dependence on petroleum fuels and cut down greenhouse gas emissions The DBT-ICT-CEB, under the talented expertise of scientists from sciences and engineering streams is perfectly poised to address the problem of bringing science and technology under one roof. The motto of the Centre, as Dr MK Bhan, Secretary, DBT has put it “ is about not doing new things, but doing the things in a new way and building capacity at an Institute for development of integrated technology package”.
The Centre at ICT, was set up as a result of vision and efforts of Dr. M. K. Bhan, Secretary DBT and Dr. Renu Swarup, Advisor DBT, and functions under the leadership of Dr. G. D. Yadav, Director, ICT. The projects and technical programmes at the Centre are coordinated by Dr. Arvind Lali. The Centre also involves active scientific collaborations with four industrial and four academic partners in different areas of bioprocess and biofuels technology. Resindion SRL, Italy (Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, Japan); BioRad Laboratories India/USA; Agilent Technologies India/USA; and MAHYCO Research Centre, India are industrial partners, while academic partners at this day are : School of Chemical Engineering, Purdue University, USA; Chemical Engineering Department, University of Saskactewan, Canada; and Centre of Biocommodities and Tropical Crops, Queensland Institute of Technology, Australia; and Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Center for Resilience, Ohio State University, USA. These collaborations are in the specific areas of separation sciences, analytical sciences, biomass-to-liquid fuel technologies, biorefinery development, plant biotechnology, enzyme technology, metabolic engineering and life cycle and technology assessment. The breadth and integration of various disciplines at the Centre and with its collaborators makes it a very unique place at the cutting edge of global research activities.
The overall bioenergy project mission at the DBT-ICT-CEB is to generate sustainable technologies for biofuel from renewable resources and has three composite objectives:
Improved Bioalcohol production from biomass
Develop a Biorefinery approach for zero waste and value add products
Develop other biofuel options/technologies
Focus of the biofuels related research and development technology programme at the Centre is on creating a vibrant bioscience and bioengineering platform for developing and demonstrating viable technologies for bio-alcohols, biodiesel, biohydrogen and other biofuels production. In addition to the biofuel programme, the Centre is also focused on providing solutions in the areas of Biopurifications and Biotransformations for pharmaceutical, food and other applied sectors of biotechnology.
The research at the Centre can be technically divided into six major areas:
Algal Biotechnology and
At any given time the Centre has about 50 scholars working for PhD in different disciplines like chemical engineering, chemistry, bioprocess technology, biotechnology, biochemistry, microbiology, and molecular biology. The Centre has eight Faculty members and five Research Scientists. At any given time the Centre runs more than ten industrial projects and several government agency funded projects. Housed currently in a separate modern building admeasuring about 900 square meters, the Centre has an array of state-of-the-art equipment and instruments for conducting research in basic biological and chemical sciences and chemical engineering at a scale from microlitres to hundred litres.