May 30 -- The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is currently engaged in a groundbreaking initiative aimed at developing a greener fuel alternative through the biomethanization of coal. This project, titled "Biomethanisation of Coal," has been assigned to BHU by the Ministry of Coal, in collaboration with the Central Mine Planning & Design Institute (CMPDI), to address the pressing issue of greenhouse gas emissions. Scientists believe that by employing certain microbes to convert coal into methane in its natural form, within in-situ conditions (as found beneath the Earth's surface), this method could present a viable solution.
Professor Asha Lata Singh from the Department of Botany and Professor Prakash K Singh from the Department of Geology, Institute of Science, will lead the research on biomethanisation of coal. The initial experimentation will take place at the laboratory scale, where the process will be tested. If successful, this work could result in the production of methane, a fuel that is significantly less harmful to the environment.
Professor Prakash Singh emphasized that biomethanisation of coal is a relatively novel concept that has yet to be extensively explored and researched. Currently, studies in this area are predominantly conducted in the United States and China. However, India has now joined these countries and BHU has been chosen as the prestigious institution for this groundbreaking study. The research will involve recreating an in-situ environment in the laboratory using an anaerobic chamber, where anaerobic microbes will be employed for experimentation. The success of this project not only holds the potential for future research avenues but also offers new possibilities for obtaining green energy. This pioneering work has not been previously undertaken in India, making BHU the pioneer in this field.
The rising global temperatures have presented a significant challenge to the international community, necessitating innovative methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat environmental pollution. Coal mining processes contribute to various forms of pollution, while the use of coal in thermal power stations exacerbates environmental hazards and carbon emissions. Recognizing the importance of coal in developmental and growth activities, there is a pressing need to discover safer and more efficient ways to utilize coal as a fuel.
A delegation from the CMPDI, comprising senior officers, visited BHU to discuss various aspects of Biomethanisation with Professor Asha Lata Singh, Professor Prakash K Singh, and their research team. Additionally, the research team is concurrently working on a DST-SERB project focused on the "Desulfurization of sulfur-rich coals using biological and chemical methods."
This new project aligns with BHU's commitment to interdisciplinary research, as it provides financial support and necessary infrastructure. Vice-Chancellor Professor Sudhir Kumar Jain emphasized that BHU offers an ideal ecosystem for interdisciplinary studies.