Microorganisms, which include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and algae, offer innovative solutions to combat the current fuel shortage crisis.
Applications of micro-organisms in fulfilling energy needs:
- Biofuels: Engineered microorganisms produce renewable biofuels, Ex., biodiesel. India’s CSIR and IIT developed micro-algae strains for biodiesel.
- Biogas: Anaerobic bacteria create methane-rich biogas, used for electricity and clean cooking. India’s NBMMP (National Biogas and Manure Management Program) promotes this from organic waste.
- Hydrogen: Specific microorganisms produce hydrogen as clean energy source.
- Enhanced Oil Recovery: Microbes stimulate oil-extraction from depleted wells.
- Waste-to-Energy: Microbes convert organic waste into biofuels, exemplified by Pune Municipal Corporation’s biogas plant.
- Carbon Capture: Microbes capture and convert CO2 into biofuels, aiding carbon-sequestration.
- Biodegradable Plastics: Microbes create eco-friendly biodegradable plastics.
- Environmental Impact: To ensure that it does not create an unintended Ecological impact.
- Technological Immaturity: Many processes are still in R&D phases.
- Contamination Risk: Microbial contamination can disrupt production.
- Feedstock Availability: Competition for suitable substrates, like crops, can limit resources.
- Low Yield: Microbes often produce fuels in small quantities, necessitating yield improvements.
- Efficiency: Microbial conversion can be inefficient, demanding substantial resources.
To increase contribution of Biofuels, government has amended the National Biofuel Policy,2018 to allow broader range of feedstock for biofuel production and accelerated the target of 20% Ethanol blending of petrol from 2030 to 2025.