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Transitioning towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Ever since the commencement of the Oil Age 150 years ago, the world has witnessed many “Black Swan” events leading to unpredictable oil prices. This signals a need to focus on sustainable bioeconomy with a renewed emphasis on innovation.

Transitioning towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Prof. Sudip K Rakshit (left) with Prof. Sivanappan Kumar.

Tracing the historical perspective on the development of biorefining research and recent challenges in bioeconomy was Prof. Sudip K Rakshit, who delivered the Fifth Distinguished Adjunct Faculty (DAF) Seminar at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) on 6 July 2016. Prof. Rakshit, who served AIT as Vice President for Research (2005-2012), is currently holding a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Bioenergy and Biorefining at Lakehead University, Canada.

“The availability of resources and technology is not the only requisite for research, since it has to be located within the existing geopolitical context,” Prof. Rakshit said. He mentioned how the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania led to an oil rush in the United States, and how the dogged perseverance of Major Frank Holmes from New Zealand paved the way towards exploration oil in the Middle East. Today, we are looking at a scenario where countries are trying to move away from a dependency on fossil fuels, with Ontario in Canada being a leading example of a province that is generating power in a coal free environment, he added.

Prof. Rakshit spoke of the policy-technology interface stating that bioethanol production in Canada witnessed a major increase from 2005 when the government made it mandatory to mix alcohol with petrol. He postulated that in the coming times, paper mills in Canada will move towards becoming energy producing centers.

Earlier, AIT President Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai welcomed Prof. Rakshit and recalled his association with AIT. The AIT President said that the introduction of the DAF program was an outcome of a desire to tap the expertise of the huge network of former AIT faculty members. “I met a number of former AIT faculty members who wanted to contribute towards the Institute, and the DAF initiative is an attempt to re-engage them.” Prof. Worsak remarked. 

Prof. Rakshit was introduced by AIT’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, Prof. Sivanappan Kumar. Ms. Smita Yamsangsung of AIT was the event moderator.

A video recording of the event is available at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL88woopj2E
More details about Prof. Rakshit are available at this link: https://www.lakeheadu.ca/users/R/srakshit