• Energy

    Energy is a critical factor in economic development of any country and one of the basic parameters that define the quality of life. Currently, India’s energy requirements are met to a major extent by fossil fuels and to a small extent by hydel, nuclear and renewable sources.


    With its mandate to continuously strive for excellence in areas of potential expertise for generation of basic knowledge, innovation and advanced concepts in science and technology for economic, efficient and environmentally safe energy generation and management and an energy efficient nation, CSIR has been making significant contributions to the energy sector. It has developed a host of technologies pertaining to energy from fossil fuels and renewable sources.

    Core Competence

    CSIR’s core competence encompasses diverse aspects of R&D for efficient utilization of the various sources of energy, particularly the fossil fuels and the renewable sources. It has developed a host of products and technologies

    CSIR has two laboratories directly catering to the Energy sector. The Central Fuel Research Institute (CFRI), Dhanbad, deals mainly with coal while Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), DehraDun, deals with oil and petroleum. Other laboratories, such as Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI, Karaikudi), Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI, Durgapur), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT, Hyderabad), National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL, Bangalore), National Chemical Laboratory (NCL, Pune), and Regional Research Laboratory (RRL, Bhubaneswar) etc., have activities pertaining to aspects of specific energy sources.

    The major R&D activities of different CSIR laboratories in this sector may be encapsulated under the following theme areas:

    Power Generation

    • Solid fuel (coal) (combustion and related areas)
    • Gas (gasification characteristics of Indian coal including IGCC).
    • Liquid fuel (crude oil and petroleum products, alternative technology for fuel, direct and indirect hydrogenation of coal and other related processes)
    • Nuclear fuel (uranium prospecting, mine planning)

    Industrial & Domestic Fuel

    • Soft coke and briquette technology

    Clean fuel:

    • Coal beneficiation process

    Non-conventional energy/Renewable energy:

    • Chemical (e.g. batteries), solar, biomass, municipal/industrial waste, wind hydrogen etc.
    Laboratory-wise core competence/major programmes can be summed up as follows:
    Labs Area of Core Competence
    Central Fuel Research Institute (CFRI, Dhanbad) Fluidized bed combustion, combustion behaviour of different coals/coal blends in drop tube furnace. Coal gasification characteristics of Indian coals (including integrated gas combine cycle) catalytic hydrogenation of coal to oil, Petrographic study and study of other relevant characteristics of coal. Design development of non-recovery type coke oven for production of domestic/industrial/metallurgical grade coke for briquettes/pellets for domestic/industrial uses from coal washery coke fines, coal beneficiation lignite/industrial waste fuels (rejects and coke breeze), development of device for oxythermal treatment of raw briquettes, process development for dry-quenching of coke, de-sulphurization of coal, characterization of coal and coke for specific end uses, gainful utilization of N.E. coal, development of suitable devolatiliser for coal and lignite, safety and economic health of mining operations.
    Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP, DehraDun) Petroleum refining, natural gas/ petrochemicals, utilization of petroleum products for developing novel, state-of-the-art technologies/products, providing technical services and assisting petroleum industry in absorption/adoption/selection of technologies. Activities related to the fossil fuels particularly to the downstream sector of petroleum. Development of catalysts/catalyst based petroleum-refining processes for production of various fuels. Development of solvent extraction technologies for de-aromatization of various petroleum streams. Development of technologies involving separation techniques such as adsorption and membrane-based separation. Development of thermal conversion processes (visbreaking, delayed coking) for obtaining value added products from petroleum residue. Simulation and modelling of refinery processes. Process design and integration of refinery processes. Technology development for production of lubricating oils, bitumen and pitches. Propane de-asphalting. Fuels obtained from non-conventional energy sources. Biodiesel, industrial/domestic stoves, pollution control.
    Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI, Karaikudi) Various types of batteries for different end users.
    Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI, Durgapur) Different aspects of combustion, heat transfer, fluid engineering and residual life assessment of power and process plants. Pollution-free power generation. Modelling of India’s Energy Economic System and computer simulation & analysis-based methods for enhancement of power plant operation and performance, fuel cells, biogas from municipal works.
    Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT, Hyderabad) Studies on combustion characteristics of undersize coal/coke fines. Utilization of low-grade coals for power generation. Use of biomass-derived gas for power generation and heating. Fuel cells.
    National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL, Bangalore) Wind energy, Fuel cells.
    National Chemical Laboratory, (NCL, Pune) Reforming catalysts for various fuels such as methane, ethanol, LPG etc; POX-catalyst for preferential oxidation of CO.
    National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI, Hyderabad) Gas hydrates, hydrocarbons trapped in sedimentary deposits.
    National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML, Jamshedpur) Characterization and beneficiation of ores and minerals. Clean coal (coking/non-coking), coal beneficiation, multi fuel biomass stoves, biogas.
    Regional Research Laboratory (RRL,Bhubaneswar) Development of efficient combustion systems for high ash coal and fuel oil. Gasification system for biomass and solar thermal systems. Coal beneficiation, multi fuel biomass stoves, biogas.
    Regional Research Laboratory (RRL, Jammu) Geothermal energy, Solar dryers.
    Regional Research Laboratory (RRL Jorhat) Biogas, oil wells, chemicals, etc.
    Regional Research Laboratory (RRL, Thiruvananthapuram) Development of organo-based materials for applications in solar energy harvesting.
    National Physical Laboratory (NPL, New Delhi) Solar energy/cells.
    National Institute of Oceanography (NIO Goa) Gas hydrates.
    Central Mining Research Institute (CMRI, Dhanbad) A pioneer in coal mining and management. Its activities are covered under the Earth Resources & Hazard Mitigation theme area.
    Central Salt and Marine Research Institute (CSMCRI, Bhavnagar) Bio-diesel
    National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow Bio-fuel

    Some of the major accomplishments are highlighted here under the broad areas of Coal, Petroleum, Renewable Sources and Others.


    Upgradation of Coking Coals

    • Development of washing circuits for beneficiation of Indian coking coals vis-à-vis utilization of the process technology in all the 22 central washeries
    • Design/development of flotation plant (5-10 tph) for fine coal treatment received the CSIR Technology Award in 2001. The slurry/effluents from coking coal washeries are beneficiated to value added clean coal for coke making. The eco-friendly, close-circuit technology was commercially transferred to the private entrepreneurs and is running successfully and cost- effectively.
    • Development of optimum washing circuit and process technology for multistage washing of the huge reserves of low volatile coking coals (LVC) in and around Jharia Coalfield that are at present treated as non-coking coal. The clean coal products can supplement the feed to both metallurgical industries and Powerhouses. The Government of India has sponsored demonstration plant of capacity 1 Mt/y.
    • Development of software for optimizing composite washing of coking coals from multiple sources by numerical technique.
    • Development of semi-automated, small capacity (20 tph), three-product jig for beneficiation of both coking and non-coking coals in the context of increasing demand of quality coal in different sectors of its use.
    • Oil agglomeration technology developed for upgradation of fine coal for coke-making received NRDC Technology Award and led to installation of a commercial plant at Patherdih washery.
    • Upgradation of Non-coking Coal

      • Design and development of indigenous rotary breaker for dry deshaling of non-coking coal as one of the best options for pithead coal cleaning
      • Development of software for better plant performance and prediction of achievable yield in coal washing plant
      • Development of beneficiation scheme for power coal (non-coking) washery
      • Improved bee hive coke oven (CFRI-TISCO design)
      • Improved bee hive coke oven (Kumbraj design) for production of industrial grade coke
      • Soft coke plant for 50,100,120 tpd capacity
      • Mechanical pusher for discharging 6/7 tonne soft coke
      • Briquetting plants for manufacturing domestic/industrial briquettes
      • Briquetted fuel for domestic uses utilizing low-grade coal/washery middlings/rejects, etc.
      • Technology for the production of industrial grade briquetted fuel utilizing coke breeze
      • Device for the production of domestic fuel (Soft coke)
      • Process for dry quenching the domestic coke
      • Process for stage -wise cleaning of high sulphur NE Coal
      • Process for the production of low ash briquetted fuel from CPC/RPC
      • De-volatiliser for lignite
      • Process for the production of stabilized coal oil slurry for combustion, gasification etc. (CSIR-SAIL collaborative project)
      • Development of a process for the preparation of non-settling pumpable concentrated coal water mixture (CWM) fuel)
      • Design and installation of coal fired inert gas generators for combating mine fires

      Technologies developed

      • LTC of coal 900 t/d
      • Briquetting of char fines.
      • Technologies available for Commercialization

        • Moving bed pressurized gasification of coal
        • Atmospheric fluidized bed gasification of coal and biomass


        IIP, DehraDun, has developed several world-class technologies in the refining area. Thirty-eight technologies having licensed capacity around 25 million tonnes per annum have been transferred to industry. Almost every refinery in the country has technologies licensed by the institute.

        Technologies Developed/Licensed by IIP

        • Naphtha/NGL to LPG and gasoline- NTGG process (IIP-GAIL)
        • De-aromatization of naphtha (IIP-EIL)
        • BTX extraction (IIP-EIL)
        • Dearomatisation of light and middle distillates using re-extraction
        • Solvent deasphalting (IIP-EIL)
        • Wax deoiling and dewaxing (IIP-EIL)
        • Micro-crystalline wax from crude oil tank sludge
        • Visbreaking and delayed coking (IIP-EIL)
        • Catalytic reformer simulation & optimization package (CRESOP)
        • Bimetallic reforming catalyst (IIP-IPCL)
        • Lube base stocks production with NMKP extraction (IIP-EIL-CPCL)
        • Petroleum based electrode pitches
        • Hydrodesulphurisation of gas oil naphtha (IIP-IFP)
        • Selective Hydrogenation of pyrolysis gasoline (IIP-IFP)
        • Catalytic reforming (including Naphtha Pretreater)
        • Kerosene hydrodesulphurisation
        • Delayed coker naphtha hydrotreater
        • Delayed coker gas oil (HDS)
        • Catalyst for hydrodesulphurisation of diesel and VGO (IIP-UCIL-CHT)
        • Etherification of light FCC gasoline
        • Development of sweetening catalyst for mercaptans removal
        • Flue gas de-sulphurization (IIP-KRL)
        • Naphtha hydrotreating/semi-regenerative catalytic reforming (IIP-EIL)
        • Isomerisation of light naphtha

        Rural Technologies

        • Improved combustion system for gur (jaggery) making plant
        • LPG domestic stove with 70% thermal efficiency
        • LPG commercial burner/canteen burner with 64% thermal efficiency
        • Kerosene pressure stove with 65% thermal efficiency
        • Hurricane lantern of improved luminous intensity and efficiency
        • Wick stoves
        • LPG stove

        Specialty Products and Additives

        A) Bio-degradable Vegetable Oil Esters

        • Acetylated castor oil
        • Acetylated hydrogenated castor oil
        • Acetylated hydrogenated trans etherified ethyl hexyl and nonyl esters
        • Trans esterified ethyl hexyl ester of rice-bran oil
        • Partially hydrogenated trans esterified ethyl hexyl ester of rice bran oil
        • Epoxidized trans esterified ethyl hexyl ester of rice-bran oil
        • Trans esterified ethyl hexyl ester of neem oil
        • Partially hydrogenated trans esterified ethyl hexyl ester of neem oil
        • Alkylated trans esterified ethyl hexyl ester of neem oil
        • Epoxidized trans esterified ethyl hexyl ester of neem oil

        B) Sulfonates

        • Sodium sulfonates from HAB (additive grade)
        • Calcium sulfonates from HAB (temporary rust preventives)
        • Magnesium sulfonates from HAB (SRM)
        • Iron sulfonates from HAB (SRM)
        • Vanadium sulfonates from HAB (SRM)
        • Cerium sulfonates from HAB (SRM)
        • Zirconium sulfonates from HAB (SRM)
        • Synthetic sulfonates for enhanced oil recovery from spent reservoir
        • Metal working soluble oil from HAB and HAB sulfonates
        • Bio-degradable soluble metal working oil
        • Ashless sulfonates for fuel
        • Viscosity standard oil
        • Hyperbasic sulfonates (additives for long life lubricants)

        C) Lube Additives Fuel

        • Pentaethylene hexa amine succinimide (fuel additive)
        • Triethylene tetra amine succinimide (fuel additive)
        • Alkylated phenylene diamine (fuel additive)
        • Sulfurized phenates (lube additives)
        • Amino tetrazole butylated phenol ((fuel/lube additive)
        • Dibenzyl disulfide (lube additive)
        • Sulfurized vegetable oils (lube additive)
        • Phospho sulfurized hydrogenated cardanol (lube additive)
        • Phospho sulfurized esters (lube additive)

        Technologies Commercialized

        • Aromatic extraction for production of benzene and toluene
        • Food- grade hexane
        • Bimetallic reforming catalyst
        • Production of LOBS through NMP extraction
        • Delayed coking
        • Visbreaking of petroleum residual fractions Soaker Mode
        • Dewaxing/deoiling revamping
        • Di-tertiary butyl para cresol
        • Para tertiary butyl phenol
        • Sodium sulphonate
        • Calcium sulphonate
        • E P additive
        • Sulfolane
        • Hot rolling oil
        • Lube oil re-refining

        Products Licensed to Industry

        • Catalytic reforming
        • Kerosene hydro de-sulfurisation
        • Pyrolysis gasoline hydrogenation
        • Naphtha pretreater (Hds)
        • Diesel hydro de-sulfurisation
        • Delayed coker naphtha hydrotreater
        • Delayed coker gas oils (Hds)


        Gas Hydrates

        NGRI and NIO along with industry had undertaken preliminary assessment of hydrate potential in the offshore areas of India. For the first time multidisciplinary database of gas hydrates was created in the country at NIO. The favorable results obtained led to the formation of a National Gas Hydrate Programme (NGHP) under the Petroleum Ministry, Government of India, with the participation of the Oil industry. NIO has recently undertaken multidisciplinary investigations for the first time to decipher the proxies related to the occurrence of gas hydrates in the two selected modal laboratories in Krishna-Godavari (KG) offshore and Goa offshore on the East and West coasts of India, respectively. NGRI is involved in demarcating zones for gas hydrates along western continental margin using seismic methods, for Gas Authority of India. By undertaking the mega venture of gas hydrate exploration programme, NIO has become an active partner under NGHP (National Gas Hydrate Programme, conceived by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India) with Oil industry (ONGC, GAIL, OIL and DGH).


        Jatropha curcas, Salvadora, Pongamia and Madhuca indica are the some plants whose oil, though available in substantial quantities cannot be used for edible purposes. IIP aims to develop processes for using such oils into bio-diesel under a sponsored project from Department of Biotechnology (DBT). The study would include characterization of biodiesel and engine evaluation of its blends with diesel to study its beneficial effects. Another sponsored activity in this area is based on production of biodiesel from totally renewable resources using Jatropha curcas oil and ethanol. This study includes field trials of biodiesel blends in passenger cars apart engine evaluation. This is a collaborative study of IIP/CSIR and MNES

        IIP is also working on the production of lubricants and speciality products such as transfer oil, hydraulic oils, etc., from vegetable oils and cellulosic and starchy materials.

        CSMCRI has taken up an international collaborative R&D project with Daimler Chrysler and University of Hoheinhem, Germany on Jatropha curcas.

        NBRI is involved in the development of biofuels and has completed network projects on Guayule, hydrocarbon crops, non-edible vegetable oil crops, etc. It participates in a mission programme of DBT for developing techniques and technologies on bio-fuel cultivation, extraction and processing. It is promoting bio-diesel from Jatropha curcas, Madhuca sp., Pongamia pinnata and Salvadora sp, as well as working with Biotech Park for producing large number of Jatropha curcas seedlings. Under a Biomass Research Center Programme financed by MNES, it has developed protocols, selected elites, produced large-scale quality seedlings and information about plantation of energy plants and bio-fuel species. It has developed hi-tech, low-cost nurseries for clonal propagation of bio-fuel tees and shrubs.

        Liquid fuels from petro-crops

        IIP has worked on the development of energy crops for liquid fuels since 1979 under the sponsorship of DST and later Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Source. Laticiferous and resinous species have been screened for their potential as energy crops. These studies resulted in the identification of E. antisphilitica as the species with most potential having maximum bio-crude yield 8.8 per cent on dry weight basis.

        The aim of the present study under the DBT sponsored project is to (i) evaluate the potential of hydrocarbons from energy crops, (ii) develop the extraction technology of bio-crude and (iii) conversion of bio-crude to liquid fuels by catalytic and thermal cracking.

        IIP is also working on the development of high-performance lubricity oil using vegetable oils derived esters and synthetic esters.

        • Development of retrofit kit for operation of diesel vehicles on alcohol fuel
        • Development of three wheelers two-stroke engine for CNG operation

        Liquid fuels from petrocrops/biomass

        IIP is pursuing R&D work on ethanol production and liquid fuels from pyrolysis under CSIR Network project to develop cost effective processes utilising indigenous resources.

        The production of hydrogen from biomass, a renewable source, rather than the conventional process of hydrogen production from fossil fuels is the process of the future. IIP has taken up the project to study the process of hydrogen production from biomass as a part of NMITLI project on hydrogen production for fuel cells.

        NCL is involved in the development of the following:

        • Steam reforming catalyst for various fuels like methanol, ethanol that can handle up to 5 ppm sulphur impurities and a considerable variation in the olefin content of LPG.
        • POX catalyst, which works in 80-90°C range for the preferential oxidation of carbon monoxide in the presence of large excess of hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
        • Catalyst working in the temperature range of 175-180°C , which can handle throughputs of the reformate gas.

        Development of improved Chulhas

        CFRI has developed several improved models of improved chulhas e.g. Angarmitra and Angarbandhu with power rating 1.4 and 1.0 kW, respectively, both approved by the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources, Government of India under category V for propagation. CFRI has also been working in the following areas on Coal Bed Methane (CBM): Resource potential evaluation of CBM and reservoir modelling.

        Fuel Cells

        • CMERI is working on the development of CO2-free hydrogen generation for fuel cells.
        • NML’s activities in this field comprise the development of materials for intermediate temperature solid oxide fuel cells.
        • IICT has worked on development of methanol reformer to produce hydrogen for a 10 kw fuel cell system.
        • NCL has designed a thermally efficient fuel processor using process integration technique. The laboratory has commissioned a hydrogen-based fuel cell power pack 95-kW), in collaboration with BHEL and SPIC.
        • NCL has developed monomers for proton exchange membrane for fuel cells
        • CECRI has developed a polymer electrolyte fuel cell.

        Exploration of Hydrocarbons

        NGRI is closely involved in study of Mesozoic sediments for hydrocarbon exploration. It is involved in:

        • Delineation of Mesozoic sediments for oil prospecting in Saurashtra and Kutch for hydrocarbons for Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd.
        • Acquiring 2-D seismic reflection data for oil prospecting in Brahmaputra river valley on north and south banks for Oil India Ltd.
        • Gravity and magnetic data modelling for Saurashtra offshore basin for Oil India Ltd.
        • Delineation of Nagpur - Wardha basin in central India using magnetotellurics for Directorate of Gas Hydrates
        • Exploration of sub-trappean Mesozoic basins in Deccan syncline using CSS, Gravity, DRS and MT methods for Oil Industry Development Board.
        • 2-D Seismic surveys in Mahanadi delta for Oil India Ltd.
        • High-resolution seismic surveys for coal/lignite exploration in Bikaner for Department of Petroleum, Government of Rajasthan.


        CECRI has developed a large variety of batteries for various end uses. These include magnesium-cuprous chloride battery, magnesium silver chloride battery, lead-acid battery, maintenance-free lead-acid battery, and paste type deep discharge lead-acid battery. Technology packages have also been developed for improved lithium-manganese dioxide primary cell, silver-zinc cell, lithium-Sb2O3 cell etc.

        Other programmes/achievements of the various laboratories in the field include:

        CMERI, Durgapur

        • Hydrogen generation by visible light induced photo-catalytic splitting of water. The work explores the possibilities of generating hydrogen through splitting of water using visible light and dye sensitized TiO2 semi conductor.
        • 500 kg per day capacity biogas plant installed at Bantala, Kolkata, using municipal solid waste on a project sponsored by M/s Burn Standard & Co., Kolkata and Kolkata Municipal Corporation. 6 KVA power was generated using a Biogas engine and generator.


          Domestic biogas production systems utilizing various types of feeds such as water hyacinth, banana stem and sugarcane press mud.


        • Commercial solar dryer for drying saffron and other spices.
        • Geothermal energy for poultry farming and mushroom cultivation.


        • Biomass operated multi-purpose drier and biomass operated energy efficient stoving baker oven
        • Bukhari and Dhokra casting
        • A bio-methanation cum sewage treatment plant of 0.4 MLD capacity having anaerobic fixed film reactors with financial assistance from the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources, Government of India, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Government of Orissa and CSIR.
        • Producing hydrogen by splitting water using solar energy in the presence of modified semi-conductor.

        NPL, New Delhi

        • R&D work on silicon and silicon devices
        • Technology for high power silicon rectifier.
        • A novel screen-printed Ag-Al back contact for 100 mm diameter silicon solar cells, which covered back side only partially and thus reduced the consumption of silver by about 40%. It had a potential of reducing the production cost by millions of rupees at an annual production level of 1 MW of solar cells.
        • Indigenous process of fabrication of polycrystalline silicon solar cells using the NPL poly-Si.
        • A mechanical load tester equipment for testing of PV modules under wind, snow and ice loads for use of Solar Energy Centre (MNES).

        NAL, Bangalore

        • Developed low-speed alternators that avoid use of expensive gearboxes suitable for use with small wind rotors.
        • Prepared wind energy master plans for twenty windy sites as a guide to wind farm developers and other users.

        Powering Tomorrow

        The coal industry is facing serious problems in the supply of good quality coal both for metallurgical and power industries. Keeping this in mind future activities would focus on characterization and washability studies on coking and non-coking coals from different coalfields. With increased focus on planned utilization of mineral resources coupled with environmental consideration, there is an urgent need for utilization of low-grade resources as well as off-grade rejects. With depletion of high-grade resources and increased complexity of lean ores, continuous pursuit of finding economically feasible process is the need of the hour. Proper utilization of the fines generated from mining and processing may certainly prove beneficial towards conservation of natural resources as well as reduction of environmental related problems.

        High sulphur content in lignite/coals present problems in their utilization as fuel. Although biochemical and chemical desulphurisation routes have been traced, these are not entirely successful. Thus the endeavour would be to utilize such high sulfur hydrocarbon and develop a cost effective process for conversion of high sulphur inferior lignite into low sulphur superior fuel char to be used in cement plants and in fluidized bed reactors and to reduce the sulphur content of the high- sulphur Assam coals to enable their use in any of the heat and power generating industries.

        Coal characterization in terms of its alpha quartz content, mercury and other trace elements, besides ash properties is important for its efficient and clean utilization. Major emphasis in the coming years would be to address the problem of augmentation of coking coal through incorporation of hitherto non-linked coals and identification of new resources of non-coking coals.

        The major activity in the coming years visualizes CFRI as the primary source and repository of data on all indigenous coals.

        IIP would focus on new generation fuels and lubricants, upgradation and development of refining processes for heavier and high- sulphur crudes, alternative fuels like the conversion of biomass to fuels, biodiesel, conversation and utilization of natural gas including methane value chains, and biodegradable lubricants. There is a lot of scope for improved biomass gasification system for thermal applications and development of an ultrasonically aided anaerobic reactor for biomethanation of agricultural/ vegetable wastes as well as programmes on solar drying of kendu leaves, timber etc.

        Fuel cells provide an exciting option for the efficient conversion of the energy into electricity and attention would be paid to this emerging area.