In Pakistan various projects on biofuels have been conducted at different universities and industries in Pakistan. However, all efforts were conducted at individual scales and there appeared to be little sharing of knowledge between institutions. A Pakistani scientist from the National Center for Physics at the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad has successfully invented a nano catalyst for production of biodiesel with the help of spent tea leaves for the first time in the world, opening up new avenues for alternative environment friendly energy resources. The nano particles help produce 560 ml of biodiesel from 1 kg of used tea leaves at a conversion of 41%.
Quaid-e-Awam University (QUEST) at Nawabshah has also been involved in the cultivation of jatropha plantations in a similar manner to WWF Pakistan in coordination with Qarshi Industries. The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore had performed several projects on the evaluation of emissions from diesel engines fueled with sunflower and soyabean oil biodiesel fuels.
The Institute of Chemistry at Punjab University has been converting molasses from sugar industry wastes into biodiesel fuel. Their technology involved the fermentation of molasses into ethanol which was then used as a reagent in the trans-esterification process. The National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Islamabad have been developing biodiesel from jatropha curcas oil recently. The oil has been obtained from plants growing in NUST’s own model farm that covers an area of 15 acres for jatropha cultivation. Half a million jatropha trees have already been planted and there are plans to plant a total of 4–5 million trees this year. However, no scientific papers are available detailing the results obtained by NUST.
NED University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi has also been conducting a focused research program for the conver– sion of non-edible oil from indigenous vegetation into biodiesel fuel. The first raw material that was successfully converted to biodiesel was castor bean oil. Due to the high viscosity of the oil, an esterification method recommended by Marchetti et al. was adapted for the purposes. Despite that, a maximum yield of 85% was reported by the authors. Hence, it was concluded that to consider castor as a long run candidate for biodiesel production in Pakistan may not be very practical unless an economic enzymatic process is developed for reducing the high viscosity of the castor oil.
In UET chemistry department and Centre for Energy Research and Development (CERAD) has extracted biofuel from micro Algae and from Jatropha plant seeds by its own cultivation in acre land. In Pakistan biofuel from algae has dreamed scope due to its climate condition sunshine, carbon dioxide by industries. Individual efforts of different universities of Pakistan took place on biofuel production there is a need to take steps cumulatively for its production and experimentations.
Following are the current activities at BioFuel laboratory:
- Production of biodiesel from Jatropha
- Jatropha Curcas Plants are the one-acre area in OCT 2012, progressing well and by the mid of 2014 start seeding
- Research on microalgae is in progress. We have cultivated chlorella species in laboratory growth under different conditions in progress.
- Production of bioethanol from agriculture waste.
- We are currently working on rice husk and corn cob and obtained a good yield of sugar.
- We are currently working on selection and culture of microorganisms for fermentation.