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Wednesday, Oct 02, 2002

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IICT initiative to produce synthetic aviation lube

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A NATIONAL, multi-institutional initiative to produce synthetic aviation lubricants (SAL) indigenously for the domestic aviation industry on a funding of Rs 17 crore will be launched during October.

The Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) here will head the consortium, which will include Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and National Aerospace Ltd (NAL). The consortium will use vegetable oils as the base stock instead of petroleum products, according to the IICT Director, Dr K.V. Raghavan.

Currently, India imports synthetic lubricants, with Indian Oil Corporation formulating it for the airlines. The multi-institute project would focus on the use of renewable feedstocks and build national capabilities of developing and testing sophisticated SALs in its mandate for four years, he told newspersons today. The second major initiative being spearheaded by IICT, one of the leading labs in the network of national institutes under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is the formulation of the country's first biotechnology incubator. Planned at the Shapoorji Pallonji Biotech Park near Hyderabad, the project would cost around Rs 35-40 crore, Dr Raghavan said.

The incubator would provide the necessary infrastructure and facilities to help biotech ventures scale up and test their products. To be ready in the next 18 months, the project is awaiting funding from the State and Central Governments, he said.

IICT has shown impressive growth during the period April 2001 to September 2002, with an external earning of Rs 12.8 crore, completion of 62 projects, filing of 136 patents (92 abroad) and publication of 252 scientific papers. The lab has been ranked first in overseas patents, second in research publications and fourth in external earnings in the string of 38 CSIR labs, Dr Raghavan said.

In the patents area, 70 per cent of the applications are in catalysis and drugs & pharma. While the rate of commercialisation of the patents was about 15 per cent, IICT was able to earn up to Rs 15 crore from the commercialisation of patents in the last decade, he said.

Giving an example of its contribution to indigenous technology development and industry collaboration, Dr Raghavan said the joint project with SPIC for the development of a technology for an anti-TB drug had reached the commercial scale. SPIC had provided Rs 4 crore for establishing a pilot plant at IICT, where the necessary development and trials had been completed. Now IICT has given the design plan for SPIC to set up on a commercial scale 500-tonne per annum capacity plant to manufacture Pyrazinamide, the anti-TB drug.

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