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ISSN 0409-7467


NUMBER 13&14

15&30 JULY 2004




One of the main challenges in battery technology today is to reduce the weight of the battery while using inexpensive and environment friendly materials.


NCL scientist, Dr Vijayamohanan and his group have recently shown for the first time that a self‑assembled mono‑layer of an organic molecule (a disulphide) can be used to prepare cathodes.  Self‑assembled monolayers (SAMs) are closely packed arrays of organic molecules.  SAMs are easily prepared and are very stable.   Scientists have been able to prepare SAMs with different properties (such as their wettability or stickiness) using a variety of organic molecules.  However, the molecules used to prepare SAMs are normally insulating, viz. they do not conduct electric current, and therefore, could not be used previously for battery applications.



Dr Vijayamohanan's strategy involved preparation of a SAM on a metal using a disulphide, an organic molecule with sticky sulphur atoms attached on each end.  Disulphide is stuck on gold to create a single well‑ordered monolayer and this forms the cathode.  The disulphide molecule allows lithium ions in solution to effectively hook‑up with the cathode and establishes a flow of current through the external circuit.  The SAM‑coated gold was used along with a lithium electrode (and other lithium salts and specific solvents and co‑solvents) to prepare a lithium battery that gave an open circuit voltage of 2.9 V.  This monolayer‑based electrode represents a significant innovation that could lead to weight reduction of the active cathode component resulting in light portable batteries for miniaturized electronics applications.


U.S. Pat. Appln. Publ., 20030186123 Process for the preparation of cathode materials, cathode materials prepared thereby and batteries containing said cathode materials, Maddanimath, Trupti; Khollam, Yogesh Baban; Mulla, Imtiaz; Vijayamohanan, Kunjukrishana Pillai.


Trupti Maddanimath, Yogesh B. Khollam, M. Aslam, I.S. Mulla, K. Vijayamohanan, Journal of Power Sources, 124 (2003) 133–142.


IGIB identifies SARS virus genes


THE Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) has recently discovered three new genes of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) corona virus. This feat was made possible by indigenously developed and patented computational tools for gene prediction and functional analysis. The discovery is being hailed as a step towards speeding up development of a vaccine against the disease that is showing signs of staging a comeback.


SARS surfaced first in China in November 2003. Subsequently, it was reported from Taiwan, Vietnam, Canada, Singapore and other countries. On an average, SARS had a mortality rate of 4 percent.


Initially Indian scientists took a back seat in sequencing the SARS genome because they did not have access to the virus. However, later, when the SARS virus genome became available in the public domain, IGIB scientists successfully identified the protein coding genes using a novel gene prediction method called 'Gene Decipher' that was developed by Prof. Samir K. Brahmachari Director, IGIB, his fellow scientist Dr Debasis Dash  and senior  researchers Ramakant Sharma, Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari and Tulika Prakash  at IGIB.


Gene prediction is usually made by computational methods based on previous knowledge about coding and non‑coding sequences. Current computational methods like GeneMark.hmm (Lukashin and Borodovsky, 1998), Glimmer (Salzberg et al., 1998), etc., face difficulty in analysing the SARS genome due to its small size. Methods based on hidden Markov models (HMM) require thousands of parameters for training. This makes these methods less suitable for analysing small genomes. The problem compounds in the case of SARS‑CoV genomes, which are about 30 kb in length. Even ZCURVE_CoV (Chen et al., 2003), currently the method most suitable for viral gene prediction needs 33 parameters for training. However, GeneDecipher originally developed for prokaryotic gene prediction, needs only five parameters and can therefore analyse smaller genomes too.


GeneDecipher can also reveal the protein‑coding gene on viral genomes. Gene Decipher predicted and annotated SARS‑CoV genes using peptide library based homology search tool (PLHOST)‑a tool for function prediction developed at IGIB. The algorithm generates organism‑specific libraries of octa/hepta peptides from all proteins of selected genomes. PLHOST was used for the identification of invariant peptides, which serve as functional signatures from completely sequenced genomes (Brahmachari and Dash, 2001). Redundant peptides are removed from each library. These peptide libraries are then compared with each other to note all octa/hepta peptides present invariantly across a specified minimum number of genomes. Overlapping octa/hepta peptides are backstitched to generate longer conserved peptides, which occur in functionally similar proteins, and hence are called functional signatures.


Development of GeneDecipher is based upon the observation that difference between total number of theoretically possible peptides of a given length and that which are actually observed in nature, grows drastically as the length of peptide increases. Moreover, most of these peptides selected by nature are found only in coding regions and very rarely in theoretically translated non‑coding regions. This observation led to the exploitation of the exclusivity of natural selection of peptides that are present in protein‑coding sequences to differentiate between coding and non‑coding regions. Prediction of a given Open Reading Frame (ORF) as a coding region/gene is based upon the number of heptapeptides present and the distribution of these heptapeptides along the ORF.


The method can be divided into five major steps:(1) Generation of a peptide library (2) Artificial translation of a given genome into six reading frames (3) Conversion of each translated sequence into an integer‑coded sequence (one corresponding to each reading frame)(4) Training of ANN and  (5) Deciphering genes using trained ANN.


Gene Decipher was used to analyse 18  strains of SARS‑CoV genomes and four new genes were predicted. In addition to polyprotein 1ab, polyprotein 1a and the four genes coding for major structural proteins spike (S), small envelope (E), membrane (M) and nucleocapsid (N), six to eight additional proteins were predicted depending upon the strain analyzed. Their lengths range between 61 and 274 amino acids.


The study suggests that polyprotein 1ab, polyprotein 1a, S, M and N are proteins of viral origin and others are of prokaryotic origin. Putative functions of all predicted protein‑coding genes were suggested using conserved peptides present in their open reading frames.


Since the peptide libraries are made from the genome sequences of various organisms, the evolutionary origin of a given protein can be traced. If the protein is rich in the heptapeptides found occurring in viral genomes, then that protein is considered to be of viral origin. Five core proteins were found to be of viral origin. The remaining, (including three new predictions) was of prokaryotic origin. It is interesting to note that proteins in different frames, which contain peptides from different origin, were found from the same DNA region. It is intriguing to conjecture about how the same DNA sequence can code for both bacterial and viral origin.


Analysis using multiple sequence alignment (ClustalW) for three newly predicted protein‑coding genes Sars174, Sars68 and Sars61 across all 18 strains shows that Sars68 has one point mutation at location 80 GAT GGT (DG) S1N 2677 strain.2. Sars174 has two synonymous point mutations at location 204 CGA CGC in GZ01 strain and at location 447 CTG CTT in BJ04 strain. 3. Sars61 has one point mutation at location 119 CTG CAG (LQ) in GZ01 strain.


These three newly predicted genes are present in all 18 strains without significant mutations and has no significant hits with BLASTP in non‑redundant database. This indicates that these three proteins might have crucial biological functions specific to SARS‑CoV. Therefore, these coding sequences might serve as candidate drug targets against SARS.


IGIB scientists have predicted 15 coding regions in SARS‑CoV out of which functions of the four structural proteins (M, N, S and E) have already been assigned. Although the polyprotein 1ab has been assigned only replicase activity, analysis implies that the replicase activity is associated with Sars2628 (C‑terminal ofORF1ab) fragment. The complete 1ab polyprotein contains six functional signatures of which polyprotein 1a contains signatures associated with metabolic enzymes. Functions were assigned to the polyproteins on the basis of peptides occurring in proteins having similar functions in at least five different organisms. In general, GeneDecipher results are in good agreement with the known annotations.


The findings are relevant in the light of recent resurgence of the SARS coronavirus. "An in‑depth analysis of SARS was necessitated by the second coming of the coronavirus in China," says Samir K Brahmachari. "The recent outbreak proved that molecular understanding of the virus was needed to identify potential drugs for this life‑threatening disease."


An effective vaccine for SARS is still awaited but the availability of complete genome sequence of several strains of SARS virus provides the possibility of identification of protein‑coding genes and defining their functions—the first step towards designing a drug/vaccine. "The Chinese government has already shown interest in IGIB's bioinformatics tools for identification of SARS genes. The government there is looking at identifying new drug targets and, possibly, a drug or vaccine, by using our bioinformatics tools," says Prof. Brahmachari.



IIP signs MoU with TIET, Patiala

THE Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehra Dun, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET), Patiala. This is a first step between an R&D institute like IIP and a university to promote Science & Technology and in this direction both IIP and TIET will be benefited.


TIET, an ISO 9001: 2000 certified institute, Grade `A' accredited by NBA, AICTE, is an educational and research institute which is a deemed- university for educational and research projects to be undertaken singly or jointly in the area of process development/modification, pilot scale and plant scale trials, consultancy, technical assistance, training and continuing educational programmes, degree and non-degree courses, organizing conferences and seminars, and exchange of personnel. TIET, established in 1956, has got excellent research infrastructure available for R&D activity. TIET is engaged in teaching and research in the area of science, technology, engineering and management disciplines including chemical engineering.


The present agreement between IIP and TIET, will lead to a long and successful collaboration programme between the two organizations.



MoC signed between IIP & MRPL


A Memorandum of Collaboration (MoC), was signed between the Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehra Dun, and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), Mangalore, to develop modalities of cooperation for selected research, development, engineering and technology projects identified by one or both the parties. The cooperation areas will be focused on the projects requiring R&D facilities, as MRPL does not have the required facilities of its own.


Shri S.C. Tandon, Associate President (Refinery) MRPL and Shri S.K. Sadana, CoA, IIP,

 signing the Memorandum of Collaboration as Dr M.O. Garg, Director, IIP, looks on


It was agreed that a Joint Project Committee (JPC) for the purpose of effective implementation of specific projects covered under MoC working groups, will be set up, if required.

The intellectual property that is know-how/process/design/technique/patents/copyrights generated under the project shall be jointly owned by MRPL and IIP. Both the parties can use this intellectual property individually or collectively, for further research and development or academic purposes.

The MoC was signed by Shri S.C. Tandon on behalf of MRPL and by Shri S.K. Sadana, Controller of Administration on behalf of IIP in the presence of Dr M.O. Garg, Director, IIP, Dr S.N. Sharma, Head, Research Planning and Monitoring, Shri M.K. Jain, Dy. Financial Adviser, Shri M.M. Kumar and Shri Deepak Tandon.

MRPL is engaged in refining of crude oils, marketing of finished petroleum products and production and marketing of petrochemicals and other value added products, whereas IIP is a premier industrial research institute and has expertise in the field of petroleum refining, processing, chemical & intermediates, catalysis, petroleum products, application and training of personnel of related industries and has developed over the years experience and capabilities in these areas.


MRPL and IIP consider it mutually advantageous to pool their resources, cooperate with each other, work together to consolidate and improve their respective positions, to achieve their common objective for their mutual benefit.



Projects contracted to NEERI


THE projects contracted to the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, during March‑April 2004 include:


      ·    Sustainable water resources management in Himalayan village with particular reference to rainwater harvesting and environmental protection of the streams for safe drinking water supply and sanitation in hilly region of Tehri Garhwal, Ministry of Rural Development, New Delhi

      ·    Studies on assessment of common effluent treatment plants for its adequacy and efficacy & management practice in India, Planning Commission, New Delhi

      ·    Efficacy of Effluent Treatment Plant at M/s MCC‑PTA India Corpn., Pvt. Ltd, Haldia

      ·    Assessment of existing system and feasibility of the centralized STP with disposal options, CIDCO, Navi Mumbai

      ·    EIA for proposed seismic survey and exploratory drilling in CG‑ONN‑2001/1 (Cambay Basin), ONGC, Baroda

      ·    EIA & risk assessment studies for proposed development for production of oil and gas in the transition zone of CB‑OS‑2 block in Surat dist. (Gulf of Khambhat), Cairn Energy India Pvt. Ltd, Chennai

      ·    Pre‑seismic survey environment impact studies for three blocks, ONGC, Jorhat

      ·    Development of simulation model for biodegradation of mixed waste stream pesticides, DBT, New Delhi

      ·    Environmental Audit of ETPs at onshore installations and offshore platforms, ONGC, Mumbai

      ·    Training Programme on Biodiversity, Ministry of Environment & Forests (MEF), New Delhi

      ·    Water quality monitoring and study of siltation pattern in the Mangrove area near the southern reclamation for multicargo port at Hazira, Hazira LNG Pvt., Ltd, Ahmedabad

      ·    Monitoring and inventory of emissions of volatile organic compounds in urban air Phase‑II, CPCB, New Delhi

      ·    Inventory of evaporative emissions of hydrocarbons from various sources in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai & Chennai, CPCB, New Delhi


Project Reports submitted

Environmental Impact Assessment of Proposed Seismic Survey in NELP‑III Block CB‑ONN‑2001/1 in Cambay Basin, Gujarat


NELP, a New Exploration Licensing Policy was formulated by Government of India in 1997‑98 to explore additional reservoirs and discover new oil and gas fields in less explored areas to meet the rapidly growing demand for petroleum products in the country. Under this policy, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Ltd, has been awarded a NELP Block CB‑ONN‑2001/1 covering 215 sq km in the Cambay Basin of Gujarat state. ONGC retained NEERI to undertake studies for the proposed seismic survey with a view to assess the potential environmental impacts and to prepare Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report incorporating environmental management plan for preventing and mitigating adverse impacts.


NEERI has recently submitted the project report for EIA of proposed seismic survey in NELP‑III block CB‑ONN‑2001/1 in Cambay Basin, Gujarat.


Particulate Matter Reduction Action Plan for Greater Mumbai


Particulate matter is one of the important constituents of air pollution which has been recognized in recent times as one of the most harmful pollutants.


Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is implementing the Mumbai Urban Transport Plan (MUTP) with the financial assistance of the World Bank. MMRDA proposed to investigate the sources and status of the Particulate Matter levels in Greater Mumbai Region and retained NEERI to undertake the study on `Particulate Matter Reduction Action Plan for Greater Mumbai Region'.


NEERI has submitted the report recently based on studies carried out by them. This report in addition to the salient findings of the studies, also includes a detailed Particulate Matter Reduction Action Plan.


Patents filed by NBRI


The National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow, has filed seven patents during November 2003.


      ·    Development of novel herbal formulation used as an anti-diabetic on traditional indigenous knowledgeÅ P. Pushpangadan; C.V. Rao; K. Ramaswami; S. Mehrotra; R.K. Goel; S. Acharya; S. Madhavan; (No. 0469 NF 2003)

      ·    Development of novel herbal combination used as a brain tonic and cognition based on traditional indigenous knowledgeÅ P. Pushpangadan; C.V. Rao; K. Ramaswami; S. Mehrotra; R.K. Goel; S. Acharya; S. Madhavan; (No. 0470 NF 2003)

      ·    Development of herbal formulation in treatment of gastrointestinal disorders Å P. Pushpangadan; C.V. Rao; A.K.S.Rawat; S. Mehrotra; S.K. Ojha; Amresh; (No. 0471 NF 2003)

      ·    Antihyperlipidemic and slimming herbal composition(s) Å P. Pushpangadan; S. Mehrotra; C.V. Rao; S.K. Ojha; G. Raghavan; G.M.M. Rao Padmavathi; (No. 0472 NF 2003)

      ·    Antiarthritic herbal composition(s) Å P. Pushpangadan; C.V. Rao; G. Raghavan; S.K. Ojha; G.D. Reddy; S. Mehrotra; (No. 0473 NF 2003)

      ·    Herbal oro-dental care composition for the treatment of halitosis & mouth ulcer Å P. Pushpangadan; C.V. Rao; S.K. Ojha; K.P.N. Nair; M. M. Pandey; A.K.S.Rawat; S. Mehrotra; (No. 0474 NF 2003)

      ·    Development of herbal formulation in treatment of anti-pyretic relapsing fever and dengue conditions Å P. Pushpangadan; A.K.S.Rawat; C.V. Rao; S.K. Srivastava; Khatoon Sayyada; (No. 0475 NF 2003)



Liquid Phase Sintering of Flyash to Produce High Volume Flyash Ceramics for a Variety of Applications


K.G.K. Warrier, P. Krishna Pillai, P. Perumal, Regional Research Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram and C.L. Verma, Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee


THE building materials production and use are undergoing a phenomenal change in recent years. The concept of using clay molded bricks and tiles, and other natural materials are entering into a new phase. The need for utilizing alternative raw materials, use of natural materials in composites for improved strength, low‑weight and durability, identifying new materials for construction and large scale use of solid industrial wastes are getting well recognized. The natural materials available as non‑renewables should be conserved, while the materials of renewable nature, and industrial and agricultural wastes should be encouraged.


A range of solid industrial wastes which can be used effectively utilized in producing building materials are flyash, red mud, tannery sludge, phosphogypsum, iron ore rejects and mineral tailings. However, the technologies developed for utilizing these wastes should take care of high volume consumption, safe disposal, simple processing and energy conservation and high order of aesthetics. The products derived from an industrial/agricultural waste should not reflect its original colour, smell, form or morphology, and should maintain a different quality and appearance.


Flyash is the by‑product of burning of coal and is available from coal‑based thermal power plants and other coal burning centres. An estimated availability of flyash in India is about 80‑100 million tonnes per year. Every thermal power plant generating 1000 MW power on an average produces 3500 tonnes of flyash every day. It is estimated that an area of about 28,000 ha of land will be necessary to dump all the flyash available in the country. However, it is a common sight that flyash in large heaps is dumped in areas nearby the thermal power plants awaiting proper disposal. The present utilization level of flyash in India is less than 10%. On the other hand, countries in Europe and China are far ahead of implementing methodologies for efficient utilization of the ash to much higher levels. Flyash bound with lime (calcium hydroxide) is an effective method for reaction‑bonded consolidation of flyash. However, this process is effective when the residual carbon content of flyash is very low and the flyash has a uniform distribution of fine particles. Further, the reaction between flyash and the lime takes place under hydrothermal conditions. The most effective way could be the sintering of flyash under high temperatures, where the carbon content as well as burnable impurities of flyash are removed during the first phase of heating and the sintering of flyash takes place at high temperatures. However, usually the flyash sinters above 1100°C and liquid phase sintering of fly has been attempted as a possible alternative to bring down the temperature required for densification.


The flux‑bonded flyash is based on the principle of formation of a thin liquid phase around the flyash particles, which provide excellent binding to the flyash. The flyash is mixed with a binder and additive and formed into the shape of bricks/tiles and fired. The sintering is achieved through a liquid phase and hence the brick is ceramically bonded. Incorporation of flyash as high as 80% by weight is possible. The process was tested at the Regional Research Laboratory (RRL), Thiruvananthapuram, and experimented on pilot scale under factory conditions to the level of a few thousand bricks.


 he process developed at RRL‑T involves the following steps:


Flyash + Binder + Additives ® Compaction to Bricks. ® Drying and Firing


The properties of the flux-bonded flyash are given below:


Compressive (Cold Crushing) Strength              70-120 kg/cm2           
Water absorption                                                          15-20%          
Bulk Density                                                     1300-1500 kg/cm3     
Colour                                                              Brick red


This process is the first of its kind, and opens a variety of opportunities. It should be possible to extend this technology for the manufacture of flooring and facing tiles, insulating tiles for thermal and acoustic applications, coloured tiles by either addition of pigments or by changing atmosphere of firing process.


The figure 1 below provides the schematic diagram of the flux‑bonding process. The binder and additive provide the low melting fluxes, which catalyze further glass formation in flyash which will consolidate the flyash through liquid phase sintering. The clay (~10%) acts as a compaction aid to provide green strength.


The various stages of Flux bonding Process


The sintering temperature is considerably brought down in the presence of the additives and this facilitates the processing of flyash more effectively. The principle can be applied to other alumino silicates also and this technique can be used for the synthesis of high‑volume dense flyash products for a variety of applications, including fabrication of building components.


The detailed investigation on the consolidation characteristics of flyash to high volume products has resulted in the following conclusion:


      ·    The flyash which is a high silica containing by‑product of coal burning can be consolidated at lower temperatures using a liquid phase sintering technique.

      ·    High volume flyash utilization (as high as 85%) can be achieved for practical applications where the mechanical properties can be tuned to the optimum requirement by controlling the extent of liquid phase.

      ·    The process has been scaled up and a variety of building components have been fabricated using the process of liquid phase sintered flux bonded flyash process (LPFBFA).


This process, which is included under the CSIR Task Force Project on New Construction Materials jointly with Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, is being scaled up for techno‑economic evaluation as well as commercial transfer in collaboration with tile industry under sponsorship from the Flyash Mission, TIFAC, Government of India.



Central Food Technological Research Institute, MysoreR&D Highlights: 2003‑2004


THE Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore, during 2003‑2004, continued to pursue research and development work, in the following areas: Value‑addition to Agri‑materials — Fruits and vegetables, Animal sources, Less conventional grains; Health and Foods — Bioactive molecules and bioavailability, Traditional and bakery products; New and Novel Processes — Innovations, Automation of traditional processes, Modern techniques; and pursued Long Term Strategic Research on aspects such as: Separation process and rheological properties, Tissue culture of steviosides, Oilseed proteins in product development, Molecular probes for pathogens in traditional foods, Detection of mycotoxigenic fungi, Biosensors for pesticides and herbicides in water, Polyhydroxyalkanoate – copolymers, Synthesis of glycosides and sugar esters, Biotransformation of oils for health oils, Caffeine biosynthesis, Capsaicin biosynthesis, Probes for GM foods, Rice bran lipase, and Bioactive peptides from bovine milk.


Performance Indicators


Patents – Process and device patenting has shown a rise in the areas of food biotechnology, food processing and food engineering. One hundred and four patents were filed in India and forty two patents were filed abroad including twenty seven PCT applications.


Technology Transfers, Demonstrations, Consultancy Services, etc.— On the technology transfer scenario, the institute released 59 processes for commercial exploitation and demonstrated 41 processes to 67 licencers. Four design drawings were released to five parties apart from supply of seven products. Of the 63 technical consultancy assignments taken up, 38 have been completed. Seventeen industry sponsored research projects have been initiated during the period, of which, nine were completed. Out of the 91 grant‑in‑aid programmes being  pursued during the year in the area of food science and technology 12 have been completed.


Technical Assistance — Technical assistance was rendered to industries by way of supply of samples/products, and pilot plant facilities. Counselling services, totaling 1058 in number were rendered to entrepreneurs and State Government Agencies. A total of 9777 technical enquiries were processed. Nineteen new process have been developed and standardized for commercial exploitation. The institute has analysed and tested 1485 samples from different sources for physico‑chemical attributes and nutritional quality. In addition, 700 legal samples under PFA and 785 imported food articles received from port authorities have been analysed, while 3698 special investigations were carried out during the period.


Human Resource Development —  The institute continued its efforts towards human resource development in the area of food processing and preservation. M.Sc. (Food Technology) degree was awarded to 21 students, while 19 students were imparted training leading to certificate in Milling Technology. The institute conducted 34 short‑term courses for the benefit of 300 personnel from food processing industry. Eighty two students from professional colleges in and around Mysore carried out project work for partial fulfillment of their courses. Seven students have been conferred Ph.D. degree by universities in the country, while fifteen research scholars submitted their theses for the award of Ph.D. Degree. The scientists of the institute also participated as faculty in various post‑graduate programmes conducted by  the University of Mysore.


Publications — CFTRI scientists published 129 research papers, nine chapters in various books, 16 review papers and five papers in proceedings. In addition 75 scientists presented 40 posters in 15 national conferences while 150 scientists contributed to 205 poster presentations at 10 international symposia. A number of them have received prizes.


Honours & Awards — The institute received acclaims for its demonstrated unparalleled scientific excellence. Seven of its scientists received national and professional recognition. The conferment of `Padmasri' by the Government of India, on Dr V. Prakash, Director, crowned all of these. Dr V. Prakash, was also elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry UK. He also received the Kashalkar memorial award from the All India Food Processor's Association. Dr G.A. Ravishankar and Dr S. Rajarathnam received the Technology Day Award given by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. Dr G. Muralikrishna was bestowed with the Laljee Godhu Smarak  Nidhi  Award and Dr K. Srinivasan got the P.B. Rama Rao Memorial award for biomedical sciences.


The institute, having acquired accreditation under ISO 9001 : 2000 : and NABL is putting in efforts to obtain certification under ISO14001, for Environment Management.

R&D Highlights


On the Research and Development front, the institute has taken up four new groups of major laboratory projects that cover a vide spectrum of areas in Food Science and Technology. The areas are broadly, Value addition to agri‑materials; Health and foods, New and novel processes and Long term strategic research. In addition to these, the institute has contributed to multi laboratory networked R&D programmes of CSIR, as part of the 10th five year plan.


Conditions were evolved for the preparation of mango and banana gels. Hydrocolloids were found to interact with fruit pulps of mango and banana affecting the texture of the products. Jelly and powder, free of bitterness, could be successfully prepared starting from the fresh kinnow orange juice. A formulation for instant milk shake powders, that retain natural taste without curdling were developed. Paste and pickle of acceptable quality were prepared from raw tamarind. A variety of products such as, jam, jelly, bar, nectar and squash were prepared from figs. Two value added products, namely, dehydrated bamboo shoot and bamboo shoot candy were also developed.



















Clockwise from top left: Osmotic membrane distillation unit; Instant natural milk shake powders from fruits;
Flavoured Bamboo shoot candy; Jelly and spray dried powder from kinnow orange


The duration for osmo‑dehydration of papaya cubes and sapota slices was experimentally studied. The effect of sugar syrup strength on the osmotic dehydration of papaya and sapota and the physico‑chemical composition of litchi powder were understood. Processes for litchi pulp and litchi beverage concentrate were developed. Tamarind paste and tamarind based pickles in combination with other vegetables such as tomato, ginger and chilly were prepared. Studies were initiated on storage of raw tamarind powder. A basic process was developed for canning of figs in sugar syrup. Studies were carried out on packaging of dried dates and date powder. Processes were also developed for amla products such as, paste, juice and beverage. Candy, bar, jam and beverage were developed from cashew apple pulp and juice. A process was developed for coconut sap concentrate from fresh coconut sap. A spread‑like product was developed from the concentrate. Conditions were optimized for the preparation of soy milk. Natural coagulants such as Garcinia indica and Averrhoa carambola were found to produce the highest yield and the best tofu, a curd like product, respectively. Formulation and processing conditions were standardized for nutraceutical candy based on ginger, cumin, jaggery or sugar.




From above left: Tissue culture of Stevia rebaudiana; Multipurpose grating machine;

Package for the traditional food —Macaroon


Processes have been developed for shelf‑stable chicken kebab mix, frozen chicken curry and fish bites. A lead has been obtained for improving meaty aroma in cooked meats. A hydrolysate base for use in beverage formulations has been prepared by blending malts of ragi and barley. An understanding of the properties of moth bean, with a bearing on processing and value addition, has been obtained. Functional properties of commercially available horsegram have been studied towards development of products. Studies in khesri dhal have been undertaken to evaluate toxicity and mitochondria‑dysfunction in animal models and identification of the biomarker of the toxin responsible for neurolathyrism.


Xylanase from malted ragi has been partially purified. Xylanase, acetic acid and ferulic acid esterases have been isolated from cereal malts by standardizing malt extraction buffer ratio, molarity and number of extractions. It was found that the hypolipidemic potential of red pepper and turmeric does not undergo significant alteration when subjected to heat processing akin to domestic cooking of the spices. The extractives from the fruits of Garcinia cowa and G. xanthochymus  were found to exhibit antioxidant activity. Their usefulness in food bio‑preservation was  investigated. Ragi based fibre‑rich cereal bar has been prepared.


A grating machine has been designed and fabricated. Successful trials have been carried out with materials such as copra, beetroot, carrot and amla, to name a few. The electric rice cooker was found to be the most energy efficient among the various electrical appliances studied. Critical parameters for the design of a home scale steriliser have been identified. The change in the physical properties of food and agricultural commodities owing to gamma irradation was found to be a dose dependent phenomenon. The combined effect of irradiation and osmotic dehydration on the rehydration characteristics of carrot were studied. It was found that the lower concentration of sucrose pretreatment imparts minimal damages and limited cell rupture during dehydration. The factors that determine the level of soy milk extraction and the quality of tofu were standardized. Thin layer chromatography has been employed to defect mycotoxygenic fungi of Fusarium sp. Screening of Fusarium sp and A.ochraceus sp for toxigenic genes have been carried out by PCR technique. A microbial consortium capable of degrading tech‑HCH inoculated to sterile soil, completely in a vertical rotary drum drier has been established. The consortium inoculated to native soil containing 25 ppm of HCH has been found to completely degrade all the isomers of HCH.


Top: Products from coconut sap (neera)
Above: Cashew apple candy


Extraction, purification and characterization of Monascus pigment was carried out. Partically saturated canthaxanthin and astaxanthin production by the mutant strain of A. carbonarius was related to the requirement for external sterol for maintaining membrane fluidity. Potential strains of lactic acid bacteria with properties suitable for use as probiotics were isolated. Storage lipids produced by Mucor rouxii and oleaginous fungus could be extracted  completely by supercritical extraction methods. GC and GCMS analysis of the lipid of the fungus confirmed the presence of fatty acids such as gamma linolenic acid and arachidonic acid.


Development of bakery products — bread, cake and biscuits with soy functional ingredients was done. Rheological characteristics of wheat flour – fenugreek blend, wheat flour‑flax seed blend, wheat flour – whey flour blend and wheat flour – apple pomace blends, have been studied. Processes have been developed for high protein parotta, protein enriched vermicelli, high protein chapatti, protein enriched cake and protein enriched bread. The effect of whey protein concentrate (WPC) on the dough characteristics of wheat flour and whole wheat flour has been studied. The incorporation of WPC was found to render chapatti and parotta harder. Additional incorporation of additives such as xylanase and amylase resulted in better quality bread and cakes. Vermicelli was found to suffer an increase in cooked weight. High protein biscuits were developed using soya protein concentrate (SPC), modified using a biotechnological approach. Enzymatically modified SPC enhanced biscuit quality. Blended oils of desirable health qualities have been prepared. A process has been developed for dehydrated chicken kebab mix. Attempts at separation of shell membrane from egg shell, were promising. Adequate data has been generated on the thermal degradation of ionosine monophosphate, as affected by temperature and pH, with a view to devise systems for improving the meaty aroma in chicken meat products. Tissue culture procedures for callus proliferation and shoot multipliction have been standardized. Methods have been standardized for the assay and quantification of Stevia glycosides.


Colour stability studies on carotenoids from chilli and curcumin from turmeric indicated that the colour can be stabilized in the presence of certain additives. The study points to the interesting use of these additives to achieve the photo‑stability of natural colourants. Addition of coffee conserves (Arabica and Robusta) to chilli colour prevented fading during storage even at elevated temperatures. Extractives prepared from different varieties of spent coffee using solvents have been tested for radical scavenging activity.


Soxhlet extraction, coupled with lyophilization, leads to the highest yields of conserve and polyphenol content in case of cross flow dried normal tea leaves and infrared dried coarse tea leaves. An efficient organism has been isolated for caffeine degradation and biotransformation. The antifungal activity of punicalagin, isolated from pith and carpellary membrane of the pomegranate was assessed. Bioactive principles from mango, ginger and Indian hog pulm were fractionated and assessed for antibacterial and platelet aggregation inhibitory activity, respectively.a-Linalool and b–terpenine present in coriander seeds were found to effectively inhibit aggregation of human platelets in vitro. Fungal isolates have been screened for inhibitory activity against lipoxyg‑ enase and human platelet aggregation.


Mustard 2S protein has been purified. An antinutrient free protein isolate with maximum protein content has been prepared from mustard meal. The two subunits of the 2S protein have been separated and purified to homogeneity. Low molecular weight chitosan and oligosaccharides, obtained by non specific enzyme hydrolysis have been characterized. The data on zinc bioavailability from common food grains (both cereals and pulses) indicte that pulses are a better source compared to cereals. Heat processing of food grains was found to generally decrease the bioavailability of zinc, where as the opposite was true for iron. A process for the preparation of fibre enriched cereal bar has been standardized.


In a test formulation, one of the plant powders, inhibited feeding in female Culex quinquefasciatus. A solvent mixture of ethyl acetate, methanol and water proved to be the best for extracting the active ingredient from this plant powder. Four active fractions, obtained from Decalepis hamiltonii, were further purified. Molecular structure of the bioactive compound was determined by MS and NMR. One of the compounds was found to be a novel antioxidant molecule. Protein‑horseradish‑peroxidase conjugates for endosulfan and DDT were prepared. An immunoassay method for sanguinarine, the toxic component of argemone oil, was also developed.


A potent lipase inhibitor producing isolate N2 (isolated from manure rich soil sample), that exhibits the characteristic features of Streptomyces sp. was discovered. A rapid, quantitative HPLC method for the detection of lipase inhibitor was developed. Experiments have been carried out for acid hydrolysis of corncobs and bagasse for use in the production of xylose.


Texture of blackgram vada, a critical quality parameter, was sensorily evaluated in terms of sponginess, chewiness and grittiness. Crisp surface and soft cellular interior were found to influence the overall quality. Use of thermally modified starch‑rich materials like puffed rice as an additive was found to improve the texture and also lowered oil absorption. Additives such as guar gum and carboxy methyl cellulose were not effective in improving the texture of vada. The additives, were found to affect the quality of vada by increasing the viscosity of the batter. Thermally treated sorghum starch imparted highest viscosity to vada batter but textural improvement in vada was not significant. Processed tapioca starch was effective as a texture improver. It also helped in longer retention of texture. In the preparation of selected traditional foods based on Bengal gram flour, use of additives such as gum, carboxy methyl cellulose and gelatinized starch did not result in significant improvement in sensory quality.


Cost‑effective packaging systems facilitating the retention of shape and presentation of traditional foods have been developed. Functional properties of Eucheuma (a sea weed) powder have been determined to assess its suitability for use in food products. Incorporation of the powder as spice adjunct in soup, fish cutlet or chapatti has been attempted. Acceptability studies were being pursued. Products developed with enhanced nutraceuticals such as, flavonoids and gingerol from onion and ginger, have been evaluated for nutritional quality and ability to beneficially modify serum lipid profile. A noncell‑disruptive method for the extraction of astaxanthin from H. pluivialis has been developed. A method for the preparation of lipid soluble and water soluble astaxanthin oleoresin using different food grade matrices has been formulated. A simple autotrophic medium has been developed for the growth of Dunaliella with an organic carbon source. Bioactive peptides have also been obtained from Bengal gram dhal. Vicilin, a crude storage protein, has been isolated and purified. Pronase and papain were found to yield the maximum digestion of purified vicillin.


Studies have been carried out on the loss of nutrients during milling of paddy. Among the characteristics studied, hot paste viscosity and cold paste viscosity were found to increase with the degree of milling. Studies on optimization of processing and extraction conditions for green tea polyphenols have been initiated. The enzyme activity and the polyphenol oxidase content of teas from different gardens of South India have been studied for development of a biosensor for tea processing. Eleven of the 25 fungal strains screened, have exhibited efficiency in biotransforming caffeine to theophylline. Osmotic membrane distillation has been successfully employed in the concentration of pineapple juice and phycocyanin. LPG fired oven was found to possess better efficiency as compared to high speed diesel fired oven. The culture conditions for the maximum degradation of DDT have been optimized by response surface methodology. Studies on the degradation of tech – HCH to soil are going on with a view to developing bench scale bioreactor for biological treatment of waste containing HCH isomers. The conditions for the degradation of the isomers have been optimized based on a mathematical model. The appearance of thiostatin in the serum is found to flag the induction of arthritis in rats. A GC based method for the separation of hydrocarban from Botrycoccus culture has been standardized. Steam hydrodistillation method was the best for the isolation of volatiles from forest sources of D. hamiltonii and H. indicus. The molecular structure of the bioactive compound from D. hamiltonii has been determined by MS and NMR. Protocol for the mass multiplication of Bixa orellana through tissue culture is being developed. The use of microbial elicitor for elucidation of pigment of the seeds of B. orellana was under investigation.


The flow behaviour of rice flour, rheology of soy gel and agglomeration of rice flour have been studied. Studies on the development of rice flour into a compacted mass have shown that density and maximum force, change abruptly owing to agglomeration. The leaf explants of 0.2 cm have been found to be the best for establishing shoot and callus cultures of Stevia rabaudiana.


Bacillus cereus appears to be less prevalent in grain‑based and milk based foods compared to fast foods. The native food isolates from fast foods have been characterized to species level, based on morphological and biochemical tests.


Chemiluminiscence method has exlibited the potential of becoming an attractive analytical tool for pesticide determination. Detector systems have been developed for chemiluminiscence signal based on charge couple device and photo multiplier tube. Several polyhydroxy alkanoate producing bacteria have been screened and a few slant cultures identified. Effluent from palm oil extraction process shows promise of being an economic substrate for the production of PHA – copolymers. Reaction conditions for the synthesis of glucosides and sugar esters have been optimized. Blends of vegetable oils were subjected to enzyme‑catalyzed inter‑esterification reactions for rearranging fatty acids in the triglyceride molecules of oils. The blended oils were found to reduce serum and liver cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic rats.


Caffeine was estimated in many crosses between Robusta and low caffeine species and promising accessions were identified. Somatic embryos of Coffea canephora were transformed by sonication assisted agrobacterium mediated transformation using A. rhizogenes and A. tumefaciens. Aspergillus parasiticu and Rhizopus oligosporus  were found to be the best suited elicitors of capsaicin and dihydrocapsacin. PCR based methods were optimized for the specific detection of insect tolerant genetically modified maize. Validation of different primer sets was carried out for the detection of 35S promoter of cauliflower mosaic virus and CP4ESPS gene.


Immunodetection of the dot blots of buffer extracts of maize, wheat and rice flours has shown a very strong cross reactivity to the antibodies raised against rice bran lipase. The similarity in size of the lipases of maize, wheat germ and rice bran has been established by immunodetection following western blotting. Peptides derived from k‑casein by hydrolysis using rennin, fungal protease and papain have been analyzed for their bioactivity. Fungal protease hydrolysates have exhibited inhibition on platelet aggreagation induced by ADP and collagen.


Alcohol free extracts of lyophilized ginger, were analyzed for microbial load, and heavy metals. Ethanol extract was found to exhibit maximum radical scavenging activity.


HPLC analysis of lypholized extracts of infrared dried and cross fiow dried green tea leaves has been carried out with gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin and caffeine as standards. Polyphenols content from ragi seed coat fraction extracted in acidic methanol has been found to remain steady at neutral pH. Fractionation of the extract from the residual seed coat by HPLC has revealed five peaks corresponding to gallic acid, transcinnamic acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid and p‑catechuic acid. Protocols have been developed for the propagation of vanilla plantlets by tissue‑culture. Conventional curing of vanilla beans followed by mechanical drying was found to increase the yield of vanillin.


Different methods of DNA isolation from soya and maize have been optimized to yield a sufficient and reproducible quality of high quality DNA for subsequent PCR detection to overcome spuriousness in results. Alpha 1‑antitrypsin (AAT) from sheep exhibits a slightly higher molecular weight than human AAT and does not bind to con A sepharose indicating structural difference from the human AAT.


A few training cum demonstration programmes were conducted on the preparation of traditional foods and spice powders for the benefit of rural and tribal entrepreneurs. This was part of the programmes under the Rural Development Scheme of CSIR, along with bringing awareness in rural centres particularly on primary processing and other protocols for shelf life extension and value addition of agri materials through quality literacy movement.


The institute has undertaken work under the Network R&D programme of CSIR. The major programmes covered are Positioning of Indian Nutraceuticals and Nutrigenomics on the Global Platform, Natural, Nature‑identical and Nature‑similar Biomolecules and Establishment of Genetically Modified Food Referral Facility.



DG‑CSIR dedicates Digital Information Resource Centre at NCL to Nation


DR R.A. Mashelkar, Director General, CSIR, dedicated the Digital Information Resource Centre (DIRC) at the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, to the nation on 23 April 2004. This Centre will play a key role in making NCL a leader in R&D through the strategic use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).


Speaking on the occasion, Dr Mashelkar said, “Information technology should go in a big way to tap the available resources and make the information easily accessible for research & development and I am happy that NCL is making it possible.”


Dr R.A. Mashelkar, DG, CSIR, visiting the Digital Information Resource Centre at NCL


Internationally known for its excellence in scientific research in chemical and allied sciences, NCL has also led CSIR laboratories in integrating information and communication technology into R&D activities. Today, NCL has a state‑of‑the‑art campus‑wide local area network with about 700 computers hooked on to it. 2 MBps Internet connectivity serves as a gateway between this network and the rest of the world.


NCL's Information Division has taken up several strategic and timely initiatives in the field of ICT to contribute to NCL's success as a leader in R&D by bridging knowledge tools and systems so that decisions are informed and research is relevant and effective. In addition to providing a variety of information services to a host of academic, R&D and commercial organizations, major initiatives have been taken in key scientific informatics areas, viz., chemoinformatics, biodiversity informatics and knowledge management. This upcoming facility will foster the growth and advancement of these initiatives. Additionally, DIRC provides:


      ·    A centralized support for the information infrastructure.

      ·    User room with a range of computers for easy and common access to digital information resources, productivity and other office tools, computing resources, visualization and modelling facility and access to special devices such as scanners, CD writers, etc.

      ·    State‑of‑the‑art classroom facility with PCs or workstations on each desk for human resources development and capacity building training.

      ·    Server room with high performance servers managing centralized ICT services and information resources.

      ·    Computer laboratory to set up experimental systems and test/evaluation platforms, softwares and applications.


NCL subscribes to around 250 journals and provides access to a range of digital resources including databases like Chemical Abstracts, Current Contents, SCIFINDER Access, Patent Databases (DELPHION), Chemical Business Newsbase on the NCL intranet and online access to a number of electronic journals from leading publishers like Elsevier Science, American Chemical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry and Wiley Interscience (including back volumes).




Mr Francis Gurry, Assistant Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) communicated to Director, National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR), New Delhi, that African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARIPO) was interested in seeking assistance from CSIR, India, in applying the Indian TKDL approach to consolidate and document the Traditional Knowledge available in the Member States of ARIPO. This was followed by a note from Mr Antony Taubman, Head, TK (Global IP Issues) Division, WIPO requesting a study visit by representatives of ARIPO to NISCAIR. As a sequel to this, Director General, ARIPO, Mr Mzondi Chirambo, proposed a study visit for AIRPO officials to CSIR, India, for familiarization with TKDL developed at NISCAIR. Dr R.A. Mashelkar, Director General, CSIR, approved the proposal and invited the ARIPO delegation to visit NISCAIR in April 2004.



Seen during the ARIPO-NISCAIR Meet on TKDL (from left) are: Mr Gregory Mtunduwatha Sadyalunda
(System Administrator) ARIPO; Shri V.K. Gupta, Director, NISCAIR; Mr Emmanuel Kofi-Agyir Sackey
 (Patent Examiner) ARIPO and  Dr B.C.Sharma former scientist, NISCAIR


In response to the above invitation, Mr Emmanuel Kofi‑Agyir Sackey (Patent Examiner) and Mr Gregory Mtunduwatha Sadyalunda (System Administrator) were deputed by the Director General, ARIPO for the visit during 31 May – 4 June 2004. At the start of the meeting, Shri V.K. Gupta,Director, NISCAIR, gave an overview of the issues to be covered during the meeting and stated that presentations covering policy, technical and social issues were slated to be given during the meeting. Based on these and the requirements of ARIPO Member States, solutions to creation of ARIPO TKDL could be found.


During the meeting Mr Sackey remarked that he and his colleague were keen to learn from the Indian experience. He pointed out that their visit to NISCAIR was in continuation of a visit made earlier to China. The aim of these two visits was to observe at first hand the approaches being followed in the two countries, which have made significant advances in the area of documentation and utilization of traditional knowledge systems.


During the meeting spread over five days 18 presentations were made by the Director, and Senior Scientists of NISCAIR, covering various aspects like overview of traditional Indian medicinal systems; development of classification tools on TK; concordance between TKRC and IPC; international databases and search procedures; technical features; technological issues in TKDL; data collection for oral TK; drug discovery and development through traditional knowledge, etc. The presentation made by Prof. K.R. Kohli, Director, Dabur Research Foundation, provided a perspective from the herbal industry. Two presentations were made by the ARIPO officials. These covered an overview of traditional medicines and a possible framework for protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore in ARIPO Member States.


Based on the various presentations and discussions, Mr Sackey and Mr Sadyalunda outlined an implementation road map for the protection of ARIPO's TK through the development of ARIPO TKDL. Visualizing the various inputs and procedural steps needed for the production of an ARIPO‑customized TKDL, they charted a road map. Once developed, ARIPO TKDL could facilitate activities like validation, standardization and innovation of TK coupled with development of an education system for TK.


It was decided that the following actions would be taken in the light of the various presentations and discussions held during the five‑day visit of ARIPO officials to NISCAIR.


      ·    NISCAIR would prepare a draft report on the meeting, which would be forwarded to ARIPO officials for possible use in their feasibility report.

      ·    ARIPO officials would send copies of a few draft cooperation agreements made by ARIPO to NISCAIR for preparation of a draft cooperation agreement to be vetted by CSIR India and ARIPO.

CECRI: Industry-oriented Technology Courses: 2004-2005

The Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, a unique transdisciplinary institute devoted to all aspects of electrochemical science & technology, will be conducting training courses on the following topics during July 2004 - March 2005.

·    Instrumental methods of analysis

·    Water treatment technology

·    Recovery of silver from photographic wastes

·    Lead acid batteries: science & technology

·    Corrosion science & engineering (6 Modules)

·    Industrial metal finishing (12 Modules)


The courses are structured as modules, each lasting for 5 to 6 days. Candidates can register for as many modules as they desire. For further details about course content, fees, date of commencement of each module, please visit CECRI's website: or contact:


The Director,


Karaikudi - 630 006, Tamilnadu,

Fax: (04565) 227779, 2277713,

Phone; (04565)227550 to 227559

Prof. Y.K. Gupta awarded Dr D.N. Prashad Memorial Oration Award


PROF. Y.K. Gupta, Director, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC), Lucknow, has been awarded the prestigious Dr D.N. Prashad Memorial Oration Award for his life time contribution to the field of Pharmacology.



Smt Sushma Swaraj, the then Minister for Health & Family Welfare, giving away the prestigious
 Dr D.N. Prashad Memorial Oration Award to Prof. Y.K. Gupta Director, ITRC


The award was recently presented to Prof. Gupta by Smt Sushma Swaraj, the then Minister for Health & Family Welfare, at a ceremony held at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Head Office in New Delhi.


Prof. Gupta, who joined ITRC as Director in July 2003, was formerly Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. Prof. Gupta has been engaged in neuropharmacological research especially on neurodegenerative disorders viz. epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.


CECRI: Industry-oriented Technology Courses: 2004-2005


The Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, a unique transdisciplinary institute devoted to all aspects of electrochemical science & technology, will be conducting training courses on the following topics during July 2004 - March 2005.


·        Instrumental methods of analysis

·        Water treatment technology

·        Recovery of silver from photographic wastes

·        Lead acid batteries: science & technology

·        Corrosion science & engineering (6 Modules)

·        Industrial metal finishing (12 Modules)


The courses are structured as modules, each lasting for 5 to 6 days. Candidates can register for as many modules as they desire. For further details about course content, fees, date of commencement of each module, please visit CECRI's website: or contact:


The Director,


Karaikudi - 630 006,


Fax: (04565) 227779, 2277713,

Phone; (04565)227550 to 227559