Ministry indifference delays tannery waste bio-refinery
The Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) in Chennai, a unit of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has succeeded in developing a bio-refinery which would produce bio-diesel, bio-ethanol, bio-hydrogen and bio-methane from the solid wastes generated by tanneries across the country.
“We had approached the ministry with a proposal to set up a bio- refinery which would ensure that tanneries across the country do not discharge any kind of solid waste. There will not be any waste to be discharged because we will use it as raw materials to produce bio-fuels,” Palani Shanmugam, Principal Scientist in the CLRI told The Pioneer, India.
Shanmugam has developed a technology to extract bio-diesel, bio-ethanol, bio-hydrogen and bio-methane from the solid wastes generated by tanneries in Tamil Nadu. Tanneries all over the country are a major cause of environmental pollution and ground water contamination. Ground water in Vellore district in Tamil Nadu where there are more than hundred major tanneries, had been contaminated with toxic materials including cadmium. Shanmugam developed the chemical process to address this issue. “Ours is a patented technology and could be replicated anywhere,” said Shanmugam.
The bio-refinery is the result of 15 years of painstaking research, said Shanmugam. “One ton of solid waste from the tannery will yield 200 litres of bio-diesel, 200 litres of bio-ethanol, 120 cubic metres of bio-hydrogen and 200 cubic metres of methane. The cost of producing a litre of diesel through this process will be Rs 30 (US$0.5),” he said. He said the water received at the end of the process could be used for agriculture.
He said bio- hydrogen could be used to generate power through fuel cells, bio-diesel, bio-methane and bio ethanol could be used to run automobiles and as cooking gas.
According to a study buy the environmental engineering department of the CLRI, Indian tanneries generate 2400 tons of solid waste per day. “This entire waste could be used to generate power, bio-diesel and cooking gas without producing any green house gases or waste of any kind,” said Shanmugam.