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IIT-M, ExxonMobil Research join hands for biofuel research

Chennai: The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IITM) on Monday said it has entered into an agreement with ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (EMRE) for research on energy and biofuels.

In a statement issued here, IIT-M said it will be a five year joint research agreement focusing on biofuels, data analytics, gas conversion and transport, and is intended towards finding low-emission solutions.

EMRE is the research and engineering arm of ExxonMobil Corporation, a leading global oil, natural gas, and petrochemicals company.

A Master Research Agreement was signed by Dr Vijay Swarup, Vice President of Research and Development, EMRE, and Prof Ravindra Gettu, Dean (Industrial Consultancy and Sponsored Research), IIT-Madras.

“India has a very fast-growing middle class and a

strong desire to provide energy to its entire population. To achieve this, India has to

develop technical solutions, which starts at the research level.

“We believe that collaborations between companies such as ourselves and universities like IIT-Madras are the key to identifying such solutions, Vijay Swarup, Vice President of Research and Development, EMRE was quoted as saying in the statement.

According to IIT-M, one of the projects being taken up under this research collaboration is to develop novel approaches to convert Indian agriculture residue biomasses to sugars and high value chemicals.

“The objectives of this programme are three-fold. We aim to effectively deconstruct rice straw, bagasse and other biomass varieties of Indian origin to produce sugars, which will directly feed into Exxon Mobil’’s bioconversion platform.

“Secondly, we intend to convert the lignin present in biomass to valuable phenols using novel catalysts, and finally, we aim to evaluate the environmental and economic implications of

performing such conversions at scale,” R Vinu, Associate Professor of Department of Chemical Engineering at IIT-M was quoted as saying in the statement.

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