The biofuels initiative is developing an India-centric, global biofuels initiative covering:

  • Biodiesel (from Jatropha and other non-food oil seed crops)

  • Bioethanol (from cellulosic biomass) and

  • Biobutanol (from cellulosic biomass)
The biofuels initiative is uniquely integrated and is unparalleled in the world.

It incorporates the following principles:

  • Using marginal land and staying away from fertile land used for food crops
  • Working with marginal farmers to help improve quality of rural livelihoods and incomes
  • Promoting multi-culture agronomy
  • Building a business that is robust to low prices of crude oil
There are five components of the biofuels initiative:
  • Agronomy
    • Collection of Germplasm of biofuel crops and marine algae and their genetic improvement
    • Standardizing agronomic practices of Jatropha, Pongamia and other tree-borne oilseed crops along with intercrops, such as mango, vegetable crops and medicinal plants; in different agro-climatic conditions and under rain-fed and irrigated conditions
    • Crop improvement and Hybrid development for higher per unit farm productivity in biofuel crops
  • Farm Advocacy
    • Working with non-governmental organizations and marginal farmers to promote biofuel crop cultivation on a large-scale
    • Bringing about multiple points of engagement with farmers, such as with food crops and alternative energy
  • Plant Tissue Culture
    • Developing plant tissue culture protocols for biofuel crops to enable large scale micro propagation of biofuel crops
  • Plant Metabolic Engineering
    • Developing transgenic biofuel crops for higher expression of oil in seed
    • Developing drought-resistant and salt-tolerant biofuel crops
    • Genomics of energy crops for trait improvement
    • Developing algae to biofuels processes
  • Trans-esterification
    • Developing processes and building pilot and commercial scale biodiesel plants
  • Enzymology
    • Developing enzyme-catalysed processes for biofuels
    • Developing processes for low-cost manufacture of enzymes
  • Industrial Biotechnology
    • Developing second-generation processes for conversion of cellulosic biomass to bioethanol and biobutanol
    • Developing processes for value addition of by-products of trans-esterification
    • Developing a process for yeast to biofuels
Reliance Life Sciences has:
  • Successfully grown Jatropha by itself and with intercrops with horticulture and medicinal crops
  • Developed high-yielding composite varieties of Jatropha
  • Evaluated and identified elite high-yielding strains of Pongamia, Calophyllum, Madhuka and Simarouba
  • Developed improved strains of Marine Algae and standardized cultivation practices in 4,000 Litre raceways
  • Developed a plant tissue culture protocol for Jatropha
  • Commissioned a 6,500 tonnes per year pilot plant for biodiesel production and
  • Developed second-generation processes for production of bioethanol and biobutanol.
Research and development of biofuels are carried out at the Dhirubhai Ambani Life Sciences Center in Navi Mumbai. Agronomy activities are carried out at research farms in Kakinada, Raviguntapalli, Gandhar and Nagothane.

An important component of the biodiesel initiative is farm advocacy; where Reliance Life Sciences works with farmers, directly and through non-government organizations, to promote the cultivation of Jatropha and other crops for biodiesel. Based on lessons from a pilot project in Nizamabad district in Andhra Pradesh, Reliance Life Sciences is now working with farmers in fourteen districts across five States in India, which include Khammam and Nizamabad in Andhra Pradesh; Nanded, Parbhani and Hingoli in Maharashtra; Bilaspur and Bastar in Chattisgarh; Junagarh and Vyara in Gujarat and Dewas, Shajapur, Chhindwara, Seoni and Mandla in Madhya Pradesh.