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Karthik Rajendran

2015-11-09 08:00

More efficient production of bio fuels after computer simulation


For the environment’s sake it is important to make the production of bio fuels profitable and efficient. The doctoral student Karthik Rajendran at the University of Borås have created models to measure profitability in ethanol- and biogas production, both for industries in Sweden and for small, portable biogas reactors in for instance India. His goal is to optimize the production all over the world.

”I have a passion for bio fuels and want to contribute to spread the use of them”, he says.

His methods are already in use. The biogas plant in Sobacken in Borås uses his computer simulation of the processes to find out how to make the production more profitable. At Lantmännens ethanol factory in Norrköping a pilot reactor has been built, to test a method that uses a by-product to produce more ethanol and also fungi, which can be used as animal food. And his methods to adjust textile, portable biogas reactors for local conditions are already in use in Brasil, Indonesia and India.

”I want to be a bridge between the academic knowledge and the industrial processes”, he says.

Facts:
The doctoral thesis: Industrial Bioprocess Developments for Biogas and Ethanol Production
By: doctoral student Karthik Rajendran at the University of Borås
Supervisor: Mohammad Taherzadeh, professor
Public defence of doctoral thesis: 6 november 2015
Contact: karthik.rajendran@hb.se 0735-31 25 64

Karthik Rajendran came to Sweden from India with the goal to learn as much as possible about bio fuels and their production. He had made careful research about which countries and universities in the world were far ahead in this field. The University of Borås became his choice, where he now has finished his doctoral thesis.

It’s a big advantage to be able to use computer simulations before adjusting a production process, he says.

”I have developed a model which with 95 percents accuracy can predict how much biogas that can be produced, when a lot of different factors are taken into consideration, such as which raw material is used and how much organic parts that’s included in it. It is exciting that Sobacken in Borås is using my model to calculate the profitability now when they are building a new reactor.”

Compensate for low ethanol price

The price for ethanol changes due to for example the oil price. When the ethanol price is low it’s good to find ways to get profitability anyway.

”I have seen that it’s possible to use by-products from the regular ethanol production to produce even more ethanol and also fungi, which is used as animal food, to largely improve the profitability”, he says. “One of my colleagues is working with the methods, while I investigate the effects.”

At the ethanol factory in Norrköping a pilot reactor has been built to at a larger scale investigate if the effects are the expected.

“The results are very promising, and point at a further investment of five percent to adjust the reactor they are about to build will double the profitability.”

Create efficiency according to local circumstances

A third project that Karthik Rajendran is working on is to lower the costs to run small textile biogas reactors in the tropical world. The idea is that such reactors can be easily built and then convert waste to biogas, for instance in small villages or groups of households.

“Such a reactor has been developed in a cooperation project here at the University of Borås, and now I’ve made the model for making local adjustments of the reactor. Simply put you can say that in India there’s a big need for energy but not really any problems with finding somewhere to put your waste. In Brasil it’s the opposite – there the energy supply is rather good, but they need to find ways to get rid of the waste.”

Wants to build automatic waste sorting

Karthik Rajedran will soon travel back to India to continue his research there.

“I have several ideas about research projects”, he says. “My dream is to develop a waste sorting plant that automatically sorts the waste into plastic, metal and organic materials. That would be fantastic, since it would take a long time to introduce waste sorting in the homes in India and several other countries.”