Prof. Debabrata Das

Former MNRE Chair Professor, IIT Kharagpur
Dr. Debabrata Das pursued his doctoral studies from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and post-doctoral research work at University of Utah (UU), USA. He was associated as a MNRE Renewable Energy Chair Professor for three years and Professor for 32 years at IIT Kharagpur. He was also associated as INAE-AICTE Distinguished Visiting Professor of SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai and Heritage Institute of Technology, Kolkata. Presently, he is the Scientific Advisor of M/s. Dhampur BioOrganics Ltd., New Delhi.

He is actively involved in the research of hydrogen biotechnology for a period of more than twenty five years. His commendable contributions towards development of a commercially competitive and environmentally benign bioprocess for the biohydrogen production from organic wastes using both mesophilic and thermophilic microorganisms.  Read more...

My Research

I have more than 32 years research experiences at Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur after the completion of my Ph.D. work at Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and Post-Doctoral work at University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA. I was associated as a Biochemical Engineer in M/s. Citurgia Biochemicals Ltd., Surat as a Biochemical Engineer and involved in citric acid production through fermentation process. I am involved in three different area of research: Gaseous energy recovery from organic wastes; algal biorefinery and CO2 sequestration; and microbial fuel cell.  
I started my research work on the development of the biomethanation process in 1980. I successfully conducted the Pilot Plant studies on the biomethanation process at IIT Delhi; M/s. Daurula Sugar Works Ltd, Daurula, UP; M/s. Citurgia Biochemicals Ltd., Surat. Biohydrogen research work was initiated in 1999. We have made commendable contributions towards development of a commercially competitive and environmentally benign bioprocess began with the isolation and characterization of high-yielding hydrogen producing bacterial strain Enterobacter cloacae IIT-BT 08, which, as of today, is known to be the highest producer of hydrogen by fermentation. Also established that Fe-H2se from E. cloacae is cytoplasmic, monomeric, metalloenzyme with molecular weight of 51 kDa. This group worked on the development of a novel two-stage fermentation process (dark-fermentation followed by photofermentation) with a view towards amelioration of hydrogen productivity. They are also involved in Pilot Plant studies for the commercial exploitation of the process using cane molasses, rice mill wastes, distilery effluent, sewage sludge, etc. The aim was to synchronize the bioremediation of wastewater with clean energy generation. They have two Indian Patents , more than 165 publication in the peer reviewed journals and 38 book chapters. I received Akira Mitsui award of International Association of Hydrogen Energy at WHEC 2008 at Brisbane, Australia. This was followed by Malaviya Memmorial award 3013 of Biological Research Society of India at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Recently, our research group developed biohythane process for the maximization of gaseous energy recovery from the organic wastes. 10,000 L Biohydrogen Pilot Plant was designed, fabricated and commissioned at IIT Kharagpur. Technology License agreement of the process has already transferred to M/s. Dhampur Sugar Mills Ltd., Dhampur, UP, India. We successfully demonstrated the paper based microbial fuel cell which may be explored for the development of biosensors. Air lift photobioreactor was found suitable for the sequestration of CO2 as compared to others like flat plate panel reactor, bubble column reactor etc. I have several sponsored research projects from International (National Science Foundation, USA; Norwegian Foreign Ministry, Norway; Danish Research Council, Denmark, DAAD, Germany) and National (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sources; Department of Science and Technology; Department of Biotechnology; Defence and Research Development Organization) funding agencies.


Biohydrogen is acknowledged to be environmentally benign and the most promising renewable energy resource and an ideal alternative to fossil fuels that doesn't contribute to the greenhouse. When properly harnessed, it can provide a safe, clean and unlimited supply of energy for all of the world's basic energy needs. Read more...

Microbial Fuel Cell

Microbial fuel cell (MFC) found promising for the treatment of various wastewaters. Research work mostly focused on the improvement of the performance of MFC, reduction of construction cost and expansion of the application scopes of MFC based technologies collectively known as bioelectrochemical systems.
Group News


Research work on microalgal biotechnology has been focused on the algal biorefinery concept. High rate algal biomass production was observed in controlled photobioreactors with subsequent use of the biomass as a source of food, feed, biofuels and bioactive compounds.

Lipase Production

Alkaline lipase production using a newly isolated chemoheterotroph, Citrobacter freundii IIT-BT L139 is being studied. This Lipase is characteristically novel as a alkaline thermostable enzyme with significantly high specific activity. Read more...