Home' InDaily : March 25th 2010 Contents Vol21No2March2010|5
Fuelling international green research
Flinders University has signed ongoing
research collaborations with two of the
world's most populous nations after senior
scientists spent two months exploring
how biofuels might offer their respective
countries greater food and energy security.
The researchers -- four from Indonesia's
Agency for Assessment and Application of
Technology (BPPT), two from the Indian
Institute of Chemical Technology and
another from India's Andhra University
-- are at Flinders as Australian Leadership
Awards (ALA) Fellows, funded by the
Federal Government through AusAID.
Leader of Flinders Materials and
BioEnergy Group, Dr Stephen Clarke, said
the two-month program of activities
would allow the Fellows to learn about
the latest developments in advanced
"The Fellows, some of whom already
conduct biofuels research, have been
involved in a wide range of activities,
including workshops, lectures and
lab-based work," Dr Clarke said.
"They attended the SA CleverGreen
Conference, a series of masterclasses and
met with literally dozens of academics,
government and industry officials, and
students," he said.
"They've also visited biofuels research sites
at West Beach, Thebarton, Port Lincoln
and elsewhere in the State, and through
our training partner, Queensland
University of Technology, similar sites in
Mr Mochamad Rosjidi, Head of BPPT's
Chemical Industry division, said while
Indonesia had already mandated the use
of biodiesel and bioethanol for transport,
biofuels were at a price disadvantage
compared with petroleum oil.
"We are looking to new technologies to
improve the efficiency of biofuel
production in order to reduce the cost,"
Mr Rosjidi said.
"We currently use a lot of
feedstock -- cassava, molasses,
palm oil -- in the manufacture
of Generation 1 biofuels. Now
we are looking to Generation 2
biofuels and we're very
interested in Flinders research
in this area," he said.
"The potential to use microalgae as biofuel,
in particular, may have advantages for a
tropical country like Indonesia."
Mr Rosjidi said energy security is critical to
the future of Indonesia, a former OPEC
member with a population of more than
228 million people which now imports
more oil than it exports.
Dr Sutapa Ghosh, an inorganic chemist
working as a scientist at the IICT, said food
security was a high priority for India.
"We don't want to use
anything in the production of
biofuels that is usable for food,"
Dr Ghosh said.
"That's why we're focusing on feedstocks
that are non-food materials, such as the
plant Jatropha curcas," she said.
"But we should not use agricultural land to
cultivate these crops; we should use
wasteland instead. The Indian government
is supporting farmers with low interest
loans to cultivate these things."
India, too, has mandated the use of 20 per
cent biodiesel as a blend by 2017.
"We need to make biodiesel cost-effective.
To make it cheaper, we need to use all of
the waste in the process. I'm here partly to
learn how I can use my expertise to make
value-added products from the biofuel
production process," Dr Ghosh said.
"I'm already working on biodegradable
packaging and after hearing what is
done here at Flinders with algae, I'll be
working on ways to use by-products to
strengthen my packaging to reduce the
cost of biofuels."
Associate Professor PV Rao, of the
Mechanical Engineering Department of
Andhra University, Vishakhapatnam, India
said he visited Flinders to see how different
disciplines can come together to work on
biofuel production and application.
"It is a multi-disciplinary program. No one
discipline can solve all the problems,"
Associate Professor Rao said.
"Producing a quality biofuel that's cost-
effective, works well in internal combustion
engines and meets international emission
targets involves botanists and biologists,
chemical engineers and biotechnologists,
analytical chemists, mechanical and
automotive engineers," he said.
"That's why we're here. Very good
worldwide coordination is required and we
should work together."
Memoranda of Understanding signed
during the visit between Flinders and BPPT
will facilitate collaborative research and
the education of students from Indonesia
in biofuels and other clean technologies.
(Front row, from left) ALA Fellows Rachmat Wijaya, Dr Sutapa Ghosh, Ully Lufthiana, Manorama
Sunkara-Vardhireddy (second row, from left) Professor Kevin Wainwright, Head of the School of Chemical
and Physical Sciences; postdoctoral researcher Dr Sudirman Habibie (BPPT); ALA Fellow Sigit Setiadi;
Dr Stephen Clarke (back row) ALA Fellow Mochamad Rosjidi (absent) Associate Professor PV Rao
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