Welcome to Biomass Research Group



Group Leader Message



In the 20th century researchers and industries were fully engrossed in developing methods/processes to produce chemicals, transportation fuels and energy using fossil reserves (coal, oil, gas). However, geo-political scenarios, fluctuating prices, environmental concerns and policy decisions insisted to look out for the alternative reserves to fossil reserves.  In view of this, the following alternatives can be looked into for,

Generation of energy: solar, wind, hydrothermal, tidal, nuclear and biomass

Production of transportation fuels: water, biomass

Synthesis of chemicals: biomass

Looking at above alternative resources available, biomass is the only flexible resource which can be leveraged to produce energy, fuels and chemicals in a sustainable manner and hence, in recent times biomass is receiving a lot of attention.

Biomass can be conventionally defined as, “any living or recently living material.” Biomass, a biological mass is essentially an organic material made up C, H, O and N elements. Interestingly, humans can also be called as biomass along with other animals and plants as all of us are made up these 4 basic elements.  However, not to fear currently research surrounding biomass is done mainly using plant derived biomass.

Plants/trees/crops during their growth use sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to make photosynthesis products such as starch, cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignin, proteins, waxes etc. While starch is edible to humans for instance in the form of potato, rice, corn etc. the other products are mainly non-edible to humans. So, naturally this non-edible part is preferred to be used to produce chemicals, energy and fuels to avoid food versus chemicals/energy/fuel debate. The lignocellulosic materials made up cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignins are thus can be used as alternate reserve.

Additionally, environmental concerns demand that newer methods/processes should follow green chemistry principles. In view of this, development of green routes to efficiently convert lignocellulosic materials into value-added chemicals is of prime importance.

In our group we are keen to work around following keywords:

Green and sustainable chemistry, environmentally benign pathways/processes, biomass, lignocellloses, polysaccharides, cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignin, sugars, sugar derivatives, heterogeneous catalysts, solid acids, supported metal catalysts, catalysis, hydrolysis, dehydration, hydrolytic hydrogenation, hydrodexoygenation, oxidation, characterizations etc.

Based on above keywords, we work in the following areas,

1. Conversion of hemicelluloses into sugars and furfural

2. Depolymerization of lignin into aromatic monomers

3. Synthesis of value added chemicals from sugars and sugar derivatives

4. Synthesis of materials which can be used as catalysts in above mentioned reactions

Besides working on catalytic processes as a group we are also interested in understanding the fundamentals of catalysts (characterizations) and reactions (parameters).

For a researcher it is always important to ask himself/herself “What? How? & Why? To elaborate more on this (with research orientation)..

What? : What am I doing? What am I suppose to do? What should I do? What is my goal?

How?: How should I do it? How can I arrive at a goal?

Why?: Why am I getting this (result)?

And again…..

What?: What may be the reason? What next should I do now?



It’s an unending chain of questions.. But that’s what science and research is all about.. To find the answers just to again ask questions…(???)...

Welcome to the world of research and biomass conversion group at CSIR-NCL, Pune, India.

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Contact details

Dr. Paresh L. Dhepe

Senior Scientist, CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India

Assistant Professor, Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), New Delhi, India

Room No. 289, Main Building
Catalysis and Inorganic Chemistry Division
CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory
Dr. Homi Bhabha Road, Pashan
Pune 411008, INDIA
Tel. 91-20-25902024 
FAX 91-20-25902633
E-mail: pl.dhepe@ncl.res.in