IIT Guwahati collaborates with Numaligarh Refinery Limited to set-up “NRL-Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Sustainable Materials”

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Guwahati: Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati has joined hands with Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) for setting up the “NRL-Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Sustainable Materials” with the broad objective of developing sustainable materials from various waste and byproducts sourced from multiple sectors like petroleum industries bio-refineries and agro-industries. With the current global emphasis on environmental sustainability, it has become a necessity to develop environment-friendly and sustainable materials for commodity applications using various inexpensive, renewable and waste sources.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) & Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) have been signed on 13th September 2019 by Prof. T. G. Sitharam, Director, IIT Guwahati and Shri Nikunja Borthakur, Senior Chief General Manager (Corporate Affairs), NRL, Guwahati. During this occasion, Prof. Gopal Das, Dean, Research and Development, Prof. Anugrah Singh, Head, Chemical Engineering and Prof. Vimal Katiyar, Project Coordinator were present.

Talking on the collaboration of IIT Guwahati with NRL, Prof. T.G Sitharam, Director, IIT Guwahati, said, “This alliance between IIT Guwahati and NRL is a first of its kind academic-industrial collaborative venture. This CoE will work towards the production of biodegradable plastics for our civil society utilizing the waste and intermediate materials from the existing oil and bio-feedstock based industries. This CoE will serve as an umbrella for many such upcoming collaborative research projects on the development of sustainable materials like bioplastics and other value-added chemicals under one platform to serve the industries like NRL in combating environmental pollution. This will result in value addition to the wastes in a much greener sense, reducing the carbon footprint of these industries and increasing India’s imprint on the development of sustainable materials on a global scale. The conception of this Centre of Excellence at IIT Guwahati will provide a huge impetus to green technology development and waste management techniques in the North-East states of India, and will inspire others to follow suit on the ways to utilize waste effectively and develop a sustainable environment.”

The scope of this CoE is to provide the techno-commercial solutions for the cost-effective utilization of waste products of oil refinery including its derivatives such as wax, oil sludge, etc. and bamboo-based bio-refinery waste materials generated by various NRL process streams and to develop biodegradable plastics and other value-added chemicals for commercial applications. The project will not only provide an environmental-friendly solution to tackle the large amounts of oil and bio-refinery waste generated from the industries, but will also result in the fabrication of sustainable polymers by utilizing above waste, capable of replacing the conventional, non-biodegradable petroleum-based plastics for the commodity applications. The project will manifest a new sustainable direction to the by-product management system of both petro-refineries and bio-refineries, and supply value addition to the wastes in a much greener sense, reducing the carbon footprint of those industries.

The Department of Chemical Engineering at IIT Guwahati has received an initial research grant of Rs. 4 crores through “NRL-Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Materials” by NRL to troubleshoot and provide useful end products by utilizing by-products generated from NRL and allied industries.

Talking about the Centre of Excellence, Prof. Vimal Katiyar, Coordinator, CoE, IIT Guwahati, said, “The conception of this Centre of Excellence at IIT Guwahati will provide a huge boost to green technology development and waste management techniques in the North-East states of India through industrial intervention. It will set an example for others to follow the footsteps of IIT Guwahati towards utilizing waste effectively and to promote the development of sustainable materials including biodegradable plastics at commercial scale.”