CHENNAI: “From lab to land; from waste to wealth” has been the theme of life for Dr P Shanmugam (48), principal scientist with the Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), who has received the APJ Abdul Kalam award from Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday during the Independence day celebrations here.
Within the next four months, his bio-refinery project at Ranipet, being established with `1.5-crore financial assistance from the Union Environment Ministry, first of its kind in the world, will be ready for commissioning.
Shanmugam, a first-generation graduate from an agricultural family from Kuruvampatti in Tiruchy district, has wide experience in environmental studies and received many honours in the past which included Peter Wilson award offered by the British National Fuels Ltd.
He was awarded the prestigious Commonwealth Fellowship for Ph.D by the British Council in the UK in 2005.
Talking to Express, Shanmugam said any organic waste including vegetable waste, chicken and mutton waste, etc. could be transformed into biogas. In turn, this biogas could be transformed into electricity. Initiated by him there are 66 bio-gas plants across the country at present. At Arcot in Vellore district, 170 streetlights have been burning with power generated from bio-gas for the past two years.
Shanmugam said he had invented a method to purify the biogas using bacteria — thiobacillus and nannochloropsis — so that the purified gas could be filled in cylinders.
He said the ill-effects of global warming could be avoided by fully utilising the organic waste.
Shanmugam has moved one step ahead through his bio-refinery project at Ranipet. The organic waste could be further refined into bio-ethanol, bio-hydrogen and bio-methane, thereby ensuring that there won’t be any hazardous waste left. The Ranipet project has the capacity to handle 2,000 kg of organic waste.
Shanmugam had served as the Registrar, Department of Chemistry, Bharathidasan university, the Director, Department of Environmental Technology, Central Road Research Institute, etc.
Shanmugam was a Commonwealth Fellow between December, 2005 and 2009.