The patent has been granted to the institute for developing "biodegradable" or "green" plastic by using a residue generated from a humble tropical weed called Jatropha. The seeds of this drought-resistant plant are used by the institute in manufacturing bio-diesel.
"This is a very important achievement for us. This patent will now help us to scale up and commercially develop the process of manufacturing bio-degradable plastics in the country," said Pushpito K Ghosh, director of CSMCRI, that has been doing pioneering work in developing Jatropha-based bio-diesel since the last several years.
"We filed for the patent in 2009, after we successfully made biodegradable plastic from a residue of Jatropha called glycerol. We isolated and used microbes from soil and ocean environments to turn this glycerol into plastic, through a 96-hour-long fermentation process," says Ghosh narrating the work conducted by the scientists at the institute located in neigbhouring Bhavnagar district.
"We have so far managed to produce 10 grams or so of this bio-degradable plastic in our laboratories. When this plastic is put in soil, it degrades within six-months. Now the next step is to produce a kilogram of this plastic and make it commercially viable," Ghosh added.
The CSMCRI director also said the scientists were also working on "getting the right properties of plastic like tensile strength, etc."
The European patent comes a year after the institute received the CIPET (Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology) National Award for this innovation in 2012.