A team of researchers at Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) has done a ground breaking reseaarch on the local production of third-generation biofuel or bioenergy. This team of researchers led by Dr. Faiza Nadeem from the department of Biotechnology, used textile wastewater as a nutrient source to generate algae biomass for biofuel production”.
According to Dr. Faiza, “with different chemicals draining from wastewater, the biochemical makeup of algae could catalyze those chemicals and regulate the composition of waste chemicals for reuse and meet regulatory standards.” To recycle wastewater, she and her team extracted indigenous algae from seawater, as well as, freshwater from different regions of Pakistan, and further examine its utility in the wastewater of the textile industry. The algal species has not been disclosed yet.
The primary aim of this research is to generate massive amounts of biofuel with a cost-effective method and increase water sustainability. Dr. Faiza further mentions that “If the authority permits biofuel for commercial use, instead of petrol or diesel, the cost would decline by 10 times.”
Significanse of biofuel in todays’ world
At present, the fuel price is hiking up at a significant rate, and it’s not just Pakistan. Countries around the world are experiencing such increments and searching for an alternative way to cope with fuel prices. Among many, countries like Brazil and the US, are generating biofuel from edible sources, such as sugarcane and corn, respectively.
In contrast, Pakistan would be facing a food shortage crisis if implemented such methods for energy sources. In fact, as per stats of 2018, around 21.9 percent of Pakistan’s population is below the poverty line. Additionally, Pakistan has an inadequate area to grow plants, for biofuel production, as the population is continuously expanding exponentially.
On the other side, the textile industry, among the top 3 major contributors to the country, utilizes gallons of water, draining with it dyes and other chemicals which require immediate treatment, before the water is disposed of the water body or to be reused. Among others, biofuel extraction from algal biomass (a.k.a third-generation biofuel) has been proven the efficient way for Pakistan.
Like other phytoorganisms, algae require certain nutrients, along with inorganic carbon sources, which are usually carbon dioxide and sunlight to grow their biomass and produce around 70 to 80 percent lipid content for biofuel production. The climate and environment of Pakistan, composing lots of carbon dioxide and sunlight exposure could be the place to cultivate algae at a low cost. The budget that would be required for biomass growth is for nutrients.
Mohammad Irtaza Tafheem is an MS Biosciences from SZABIST, 2019. He writes articles for several local science blogs. He is a resume and content writer as well.