I have spent 7 years as a post-doctoral researcher in premier institutes of Sweden and Norway working in the area of biomass to bioenergy. After I went back to India I decided to serve my country and make an active contribution to India’s renewable energy sector/bioenergy as India has a huge amount of biomass from different origins which are in-fact underutilized for their energy and nutrient content. Being from an agricultural country and originally having a village background, I do have keen research interest and expertise in biomass from different origins (seaweed, lignocellulose, agro-horticultural, biogenous residual materials). With five ongoing national and International research projects my research group mainly focuses on biorenewable fuels by innovative bioconversion technologies; that involves a wide range of bioprocessing, pretreatment, enzymatic saccharification, characterization of biomass and techno-economic analysis for enhancing bioenergy production. For my research and extraordinary performance as a very active post-doc I was awarded a grant from ‘The Royal Society of Arts and Sciences’ University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Being a dynamic scientist, I have been selected as ‘Ramalingaswami Re-Entry Fellow’ (Highly prestigious fellowship from Department of Biotechnology – Government of India) as well as awarded another highly prestigious ‘National Doctoral Fellowship’ from All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), New Delhi and Ministry of Education, Government of India) and another scholarship at IIT Roorkee, India.
My cooperation with Austria started with a call within the Scientific and Scientific & Technological Cooperation (S&T Cooperation) - WTZ scheme for a research proposal between India and Austria for which I applied in the area of Bioenergy with the Austrian counterpart at BOKU, Wien. Due to its high scientific quality, innovative and applied nature it was selected and jointly funded by DST, BMWFW, WTZ and OEAD. I have been very actively working in the area of clean energy i.e. biomass to biogas along with our colleagues in Austria; our team has successfully worked on the anaerobic digestion of municipal solid waste as well as multi-feed anaerobic digestion of industrial and agricultural residues for increased levels and efficient biogas production. Jaipur is touristic city and lots of hotels are there which produce huge amount of food waste. Our research team surveyed the whole city and developed the technology to generate biogas from food waste from hotels. Thus, hotels can manage their own organic waste in the light of a circular economy and produce clean energy (in this case biogas). Looking at the biogas potential in India and Austria we had very good outcomes from the cooperation in terms of technology as well as research output (with four articles in two years project). When I visited BOKU for research exchange, I also delivered a lecture at BOKU to the students in the area of Bioenergy, which was well received. I was very much impressed by the meticulous planning, clarity and punctuality of people and students at BOKU and of course I have learned a lot in many domains of life from Austria in the short visit of a month. I see that there is lot that can be done in terms of research, teaching at higher education level as well as exchange of students, which will give a boost to both the countries and in long term it will pave the way forward for the next generation. I was also very much impressed with the, care, help and support from the people I came across in BOKU, Wien. During the visit I have polished my own personality better for higher professional growth and shared the knowledge with our counterparts at BOKU (and vice versa) which is a kind of win-win situation. And of course, how can I forget the concert evenings with music by ‘Mozart’ and the visits to Schönbrunn, Belvedere Palaces etc. Me and my collaborator at BOKU, Wien are still in touch and help, support and cooperate with each other. We are looking forward to a new call for proposals so that we could apply for new grants. I am also looking forward for other possibilities with higher education institutions in Austria for growing together.
For the future I am planning to work as much as I can in the area of Bioenergy research and academia where there is mutual professional growth, and all nations can benefit from the technologies developed and applied. I thank the OeAD and the whole team from the bottom of my heart who always work tirelessly and are ready to help and support anyone-anytime and for inviting me to share my thoughts at this platform. I wish all the very best.
Dr. Vivekanand is currently working as Head and Assistant Professor at the Centre for Energy and Environment, Malaviya National Institute of Technology (MNIT; www.mnit.ac.in) in Jaipur, India. He received his Ph.D. from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India and was a Post-Doctoral Researcher (Bioenergy) at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway and in Sweden. His research focuses on Biomass and Bioenergy. He is teaching course on Biomass Energy Systems, Energy and Environment Policies, Waste Management, Circular Economy etc. to graduate, post graduate and PhD students. So far, he has published over 62 SCI international peer-reviewed papers (>1882 citations, h-index 24), 29 conference papers and 8 book chapters.
Further information about Scientific & Technological Cooperation (WTZ) see here