KARNATAKA

India, Russia to develop gas hydrate technology

The noted scientist, C.N.R. Rao (right), addressing a press conference along with A. Kuznetsov, Director, Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, Russia, in Bangalore on Thursday. — Photo: V.Sreenivasa Murthy

The noted scientist, C.N.R. Rao (right), addressing a press conference along with A. Kuznetsov, Director, Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, Russia, in Bangalore on Thursday. — Photo: V.Sreenivasa Murthy  

BANGALORE Nov. 7. India and Russia will together develop technology for deep sea mining of "gas hydrate," a mixture of methane gas and water, the Indo-Russian Joint Council for the Integrated Long Term Programme (ILTP) for cooperation in science and technology, announced here on Thursday.

The technology may take between 10 and 15 years to develop, but will help us tap gas hydrate reserves, estimated to be "more than double the known reserves of fossil fuel," said C.N.R.Rao, Founder and Honorary President of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, and A.Kuznetsov, Director, Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, in Russia.

Dr. Rao and Dr. Kuznetsov briefed presspersons at the end of the 11th session of the Joint Council of the ILTP, which met here to review projects under the programme.

The gas hydrate of interest, -- one part methane, a hydrocarbon, to seven parts water -- is in solid form at ocean depths ranging from 400 to 2,000 metres. Methane gas has a wide range of applications, including use as a fuel and preparation of fertilizers.

Presently, Canada, Japan, Russia, and the U.S. "to some extent" are developing the technology required to exploit gas hydrates. India too is trying to do that, to exploit reserves along the long coast, said Harsh Gupta, Secretary, Department of Ocean Development.

Part of this effort will be the setting up of an Indo- Russian Centre at the Indian Institute of Oceanography, Chennai.

Other programmes under the ILTP included an Indo-Russian Centre for Biotechnology to be set up in Allahabad, Manju Sharma, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, said. The centre would have facilities to conduct research, train scientists, and incubate biotechnology start-ups, Ms. Sharma said.

On the agri-bio front, work was being done on potato and wheat, and "we should have some products in two years," she said. Commercialisation of "priority technologies" in biomedical instrumentation and development of vaccines was being explored, she said.

The ILTP had so far concentrated on technology transfer, and so had "very few patents" from original research to its credit, Dr. Rao, said, replying to a question on intellectual property developed under the programme.

Other "achievements" include the setting up of an Indo-Russian Centre for Advanced Computing Research in Moscow, an International Advanced Research Centre for powder metallurgy and new materials in Hyderabad, and the Bharat Immunological and Biological Corporation Ltd., in Bulandshar. The ILTP was started in 1987, and will continue till 2010.

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