Bioenergy and Water Research Laboratory

Recent News

Congratulations Dr. Sonal K. Thengane for SIRE Fellowship to work on circular economy at Purdue University, USA (Aug 2022- Feb 2023).

Congratulations Ankit Singh for the Globalink Research Award – Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute (SICI) for conducting research at University of Waterloo, Canada (Dec 2021-April 2022).

Congratulations to TCTD gasification project team (S. Mahajani, S. Sharma, P. Gadkari, S. K. Thengane) for the patent “A fixed-bed downdraft gasifier for gasification of solid feedstock”,. Indian Patent Office, Patent No. 351164

The world demand for water, energy, and food is increasing significantly because of increasing population and mobility, economic development, urbanisation, and other global changes. Hence, there is a strong need of interdisciplinary interventions addressing the concerns related to these three basic entities. Bioenergy, derived from biomass, can be a positive option with immense potential to contribute to the agricultural and rural development, mitigation of climate change, energy security, and a range of other innovative products. Considering the broad range of biomass sources, bioenergy production and consumption may have both positive and negative impacts on water and environment. For instance, growth of biomass such as energy crops adds pressure on water reserves whereas products such as biochar could be effectively used for improving water retention capacity of soil as well as for treatment of wastewater. This inextricable linkage between bioenergy and water will require a suitably integrated approach to ensuring water and food security, and sustainable agriculture and energy production. Our research group is actively engaged in the area of utilizing waste and residual biomass from agriculture, forestry, food processing industries, and municipal solid waste for the production of energy, fuels, chemicals, and other useful products. Thermochemical processes such as gasification, pyrolysis, and torrefaction are being explored for relatively dry biomass (e.g. agriculture and forestry biomass), and biochemical process of anaerobic digestion for wet biomass (e.g. food waste, manure, animal waste). In the water domain, our specific areas of engagement involve utilizing biochar and biochar-based composite formulations for treatment of wastewater from different sources. We also work on conducting sustainability analysis of various renewable energy systems, particularly, biomass-based systems. Other areas of interest include life cycle and techno-economic analysis of bioenergy systems, applications of chemical looping technology, hydrogen production and storage, and the bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Motivated candidates interested in any of these domains or related areas are welcome to join our research group.


Principal Investigator

Sonal K. Thengane has joined as a faculty in the Department of Hydro and Renewable Energy (HRED), IIT Roorkee from August 5, 2020. Till then, he was working as a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management, UC Berkeley in Sanchez group on life cycle and techno-economic analysis of biochar, and as a Research Affiliate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Ghoniem group on developing decentralized biomass torrefaction system operating in oxygen lean conditions (2019-20). Earlier, he was a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT working on biomass torrefaction and gasification (2018-19). During this period, Sonal served as an Entrepreneurial Lead for his team in NSF I-Corps receiving 50K USD funding to interview more than 100 stakeholders in biochar and fertilizer market. Sonal was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Tata Centre for Technology and Design, IIT Bombay and MIT, working on biomass gasification and pyrolysis with major focus on utilizing garden waste and agro residue for thermal applications (2016-18). He earned his Ph.D. from IITB-Monash Research Academy (2011-15) working on a project funded by Orica Mining Services, Australia in the area of ammonia and nitric acid production using chemical looping. He earned his Master in Chemical Engineering from BITS Pilani (2009-11) and B.Tech. in Chemical Engineering from LIT Nagpur (2005-09), India. His research interests are biomass conversion and upgrading, water treatment, waste management, chemical looping, process modelling, and thermodynamic analysis. In extracurricular, he is an avid tennis player and a swimmer who has participated in several competitions.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Rajnish Kumar Singh is an institute postdoctoral fellow working on “Oxidative torrefaction and densification of residual biomass for co-firing”. He completed B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from LIT NAGPUR, M.Tech from MANIT BHOPAL, and PhD from MNNIT ALLAHABAD. He received MNNIT ALUMINA publication achievement financial award. His hobbies are driving, travelling and discovering novel ideas.

Ph.D. Students

Pankaj Garkoti is sponsored by MNRE, and is working on management of energy and byproducts in the anaerobic digestion process for his PhD at HRED. Pankaj was born and brought up in Champawat, Uttarakhand "Land of the Gods". He completed M.Tech in Biotechnology from NIT Durgapur. In his spare time, he like to play chess, badminton, and read books.

Pratistha Rai is a UGC JRF Fellow from Faridabad (Haryana) working on biochar assisted wastewater treatment for her PhD at HRED. She received her graduation degree in Botany Hons.(2017) from the University of Delhi and her post-graduation degree in Environmental Sciences (2019) from Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow. She is also a recipient of the University Gold Medal for her outstanding academic performance during her Masters.

Kumari Anshu is on institute assistantship and is working on catalytic pyrolysis of biomass in fluidised bed reactor for her PhD project at HRED. She completed 5 year integrated M.Tech (2016 – 2021) in Energy Engineering from Central University of Jharkhand, Ranchi. Her hobbies includes sketching, painting, playing badminton and cooking.

Iram Naaz from Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh is pursuing a PhD under the MNRE fellowship working on the Life Cycle Assessment and economics of biochar applications. She completed M. Tech in Environmental Management of Rivers and Lakes (EMRL) from HRED, IIT Roorkee in 2023, with best thesis award. She has B.Tech (Hons.) degree in Civil Engineering from Kamla Nehru Institute of Technology, Sultanpur. She likes engaging in writing online blogs, indulging in novels, Hindi and Urdu poetry, and games like badminton and chess.

Reema is on institute assistantship and is working on production of effective and low cost biochar to treat wastewater for her PhD project at HRED. She completed M.Tech (2019-2021) in Environmental Engineering from NIT Kurukshetra, Haryana and B.Tech in Civil Engineering from AKTU. She is from Uttarakhand and her hobbies include exploring new ideas to enrich her knowledge, cooking and playing badminton.

Abdul Rehman is a DST project funded JRF working on decentralized torrefaction systems for biochar-based fertilizers for his PhD at HRED. He has completed M.Tech in Environmental Science and Engineering from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He received B.E in Civil Engineering and Diploma Engineering in Architecture from Aligarh Muslim University. In his free time, he likes reading poetry, cycling and travelling.

Shruti Kumari is a UGC-JRF from Purnea, Bihar working on bio-oil generation from plastic wastes through pyrolysis. She has obtained B.Sc. in Bioscience (2019) and M.Sc. in Environmental Science (2021) from Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan, and received University Silver medal during Masters.

M.Tech. Students

Sr. No. Name of Student Session / Fellowship Dissertation Title
1 Ramkhelawan Kanaujiya 2019-2021 City Sanitation Plan - Deoria City
2 Ankit Singh 2020-2022 / MITACS Globalink Sustainability assessment of ethylene production from biomass
3 Iram Naaz 2021-2023 Life cycle assessment of Gazipur landfill, Delhi
4 Amit Kumar Gupta 2021-2023 Solar pumping system for irrigation

Prospective candidates

We are looking for self-motivated undergraduates, graduates, postdocs and visiting scholars, as well as collaborators and sponsors to join our group or/and work with us. Students and researchers from diverse backgrounds of science and engineering having any common interests to BWRL are welcome. For any query or discussion, please send an email to:;

Research & Projects

Thermochemical conversion of biomass

Thermochemical conversion such as torrefaction, pyrolysis, liquefaction, gasification, and combustion could be employed to convert biomass into a range of useful products such as heat, power, fuel, and chemicals. We are working on torrefaction, pyrolysis, gasification, and combustion technologies for utilizing residual biomass from agriculture and forestry sectors in India. Specific areas of investigation include fluidized bed pyrolysis system analysis, catalytic upgradation of bio-oil, continuous autothermal oxidative torrefaction, gasification-based CHP generation, and combustion characteristics of biofuels. We also work on pre-treatment processes for biomass such as drying, densification, chemical washing, and grinding, as well as on post-treatment processes for the bioproducts. Other area of interest in similar domain is waste to energy particularly for managing municipal solid waste (MSW), where we study the feasibility of WTE projects and investigate its potential in existing landfills.

Applications of biochar

Biochar is a promising product in food, soil, water, and agriculture sectors because of its wide range of composition and properties. This carbon-rich solid product can also endure in soil for thousands of years, making it a potential candidate to address issues of energy and climate change. We are working on investigating the applications of different grades of biochar in wastewater treatment and in soil amendment. Both pristine and engineered biochar can act as an adsorbent in water treatment for the removal of heavy metals and other contaminants. Similarly, different grades of biochar could be studied for their potential to store carbon in the soil, and to reclaim the barren lands such as mining sites. In agriculture and soil sector, standalone biochar-based fertilizer formulations could be prepared by binding nutrient additives in various proportions to investigate the effects on soil quality and crop yields.

Sustainability analysis of renewable energy systems

Sustainability represents a multidimensional concept that strives to create a dynamic balance between ecological, social, and economic dimensions. So far as renewable energy systems are concerned, sustainable development implies provision of adequate and reliable energy services at affordable costs in a safe and environmentally friendly manner and in accordance with the needs of social and economic development. Hence, it is important to conduct sustainability analysis of the interventions proposed in the field of renewable energy. Our group works on different aspects of sustainability analysis such as techno-economic analysis, life cycle analysis, and socio-political analysis using different spreadsheets, simulation software, and multi criteria decision-making tools. We also look at the application of the analysis towards developing and promoting the concept of circular economy in the field of bioenergy, for instance.


No. Title Duration Role Agency
1 Stubble management using decentralized torrefaction systems for biochar-based fertilizers 3 years (2021-24) PI DST
2 Pyrolysis of residual biomass for resolving energy and water issues 2 years (2021-23) PI IIT Roorkee
3 Sustainability assessment of ethylene production from biomass 1 year (2022) PI (India) MITACS Globalink
4 Collaborative engagement for evaluation of torrefied biomass product application in soil 1 years (2022) PI Takachar (World Food Program)
5 Circular economy-based framework for cattle shelters operating biogas plants 6 months (2022) PI SERB
6 Design and development of municipal-solid-waste-fueled battery charging station using solar-assisted plasma pyrolysis 3 years (2023-26) Co-PI SAP IIT Madras
7 Trash is cash – Turning unmerchantable crop and forest residues into high-value, carbon-negative fertilizers for regenerative farming in rural communities 2 years (2023-25) PI (India) DBT



  1. Thengane, S.K., Hoadley, A., Bhattacharya, S., Mitra, S., Bandyopadhyay, S. (2014). Cost-benefit analysis of different hydrogen production technologies using AHP and Fuzzy AHP. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 39, 15293-15306 Click Here
  2. Thengane, S.K., Hoadley, A., Bhattacharya, S., Mitra, S., Bandyopadhyay, S. (2016). Exergy efficiency improvement in hydrogen production process by recovery of chemical versus thermal energy. Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy, 18 (5) Click Here
  3. Thengane, S.K., Hoadley, A., Bhattacharya, S., Mitra, S., Bandyopadhyay, S. (2016). An alternative process for nitric oxide and hydrogen production using metal oxides. Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 112, 36-45 Click Here
  4. Thengane, S.K., Hoadley, A., Bhattacharya, S., Mitra, S., Bandyopadhyay, S. (2017). Thermodynamic evaluation of chemical looping based nitric oxide and hydrogen production. Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 132, 252-275 Click Here
  5. Siddiqui, H., Thengane, S.K., Sharma, S., Mahajani, S.M. (2018). Revamping downdraft gasifier to minimize clinker formation for high-ash garden waste as feedstock. Bioresource Technology 266, 220-231 (Equal authorship as first author) Click Here
  6. Gupta, A., Thengane, S.K., Mahajani, S.M. (2018). CO2 gasification of char from lignocellulosic garden waste: Experimental and kinetic study. Bioresource Technology, 263, 180-191 Click Here
  7. Thengane, S.K. (2018). Assessment of different technologies for managing yard waste using analytic hierarchy process. Process Integ. and Opti. for Sustainability, 3(2), 255-272 Click Here
  8. Thengane, S.K., Tan, R.R., Foo, D.C.Y., Bandyopadhyay, S. (2019). A pinch-based approach for targeting of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) systems. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 58 (8), 3188-3198 Click Here
  9. Thengane, S.K., Gupta, A., Mahajani, S.M. (2019). Co-gasification of high ash biomass and high ash coal in downdraft gasifier. Bioresource Technology, 273, 159-168 Click Here
  10. Kung, K., Thengane, S.K., Shanbhogue, S., Ghoniem, A. (2019). Parametric analysis of torrefaction reactor operating under oxygen-lean conditions. Energy, 181, 603-614 Click Here
  11. Gupta, A., Thengane, S.K., Mahajani, S.M. (2020). Kinetics of pyrolysis and gasification of cotton stalk in the Central parts of India. Fuel, 263, 116752 Click Here
  12. Thengane, S.K., Bandyopadhyay, S. (2020). Biochar Mines: Panacea to Climate Change and Energy Crisis? Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy, 22, 5-10 Click Here
  13. Barr, M., Kung, K., Thengane, S.K., Sweeney, D., Ghoniem, A. (2020). Characterization of aggregate behaviors of torrefied biomass as a function of reaction severity. Fuel, 266, 117152 Click Here
  14. Kung, K., Thengane, S.K., Ghoniem, A. (2020). Functional mapping of torrefied product characteristics with index of torrefaction. Fuel Processing Technology, 202, 106362 Click Here
  15. Kung, K., Thengane, S.K., Lim, C.J., Sokhansanj, S., Ghoniem, A. (2020). Thermal loss analysis and improvements for biomass conversion reactors. Energy Conversion and Management, 218, 11292415. Click Here
  16. Thengane, S.K., Burek, J., Kung, K., Ghoniem, A., Sanchez, D.L. (2020). Life cycle assessment of rice husk torrefaction and prospects for decentralized facilities at rice mills. Journal of Cleaner Production, 275, 123177. Click Here
  17. Thengane, S.K., Kung, K., York, R., Lim, C.J., Sokhansanj, S., Sanchez, D.L. (2020). Techno- economic and emission evaluation of mobile in-woods biochar production. Energy Conversion and Management, 223, 113305. Click Here
  18. Ma, W., Ma, C., Liu, X., Gu, T., Thengane, S.K., Bourtsalas, A., Chen, G. (2020). NOx formation in fixed-bed biomass combustion: Chemistry and Modeling. Fuel, 290, 119694. Click Here
  19. Thengane, S.K., Kung, K., Gupta, A., Ateia, M., Sanchez, D. L., Mahajani, S., Lim, C.J., Sokhansanj, S., Ghoniem, A. (2020). Oxidative torrefaction for cleaner utilization of biomass for soil amendment. Cleaner Engineering and Technology, 1, 100033. Click Here
  20. Kung, K., Thengane, S.K., Ghoniem, A., Lim, C.J., Sokhansanj, S.(2021). Bulk permeability characteristics in a biomass moving bed and their effects on reactor design and scaling. Chemical Engineering Journal, 420, 1, 129979. Click Here
  21. Thengane, S.K., Kung, K., Hunt, J., Gilani, H., Lim, C.J., Sokhansanj, S., Sanchez, D. (2021) Market prospects for biochar production and application in California. Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining. Click Here
  22. Kung, K., Thengane, S.K., Ghoniem, A.F., Lim, C.J., Cao, Y., Sokhansanj, S.(2022) Start-up, shutdown, and transition timescale analysis in biomass reactor operations. Energy. Click Here
  23. Sharan, P., Thengane, S.K., Yoon, T.J., Lewis, J., Singh, R., Currier, R., Findikoglu, F. (2022) A novel approach for produced water treatment: Supercritical water oxidation and desalination. Desalination. Click Here
  24. Thengane, S.K., Kung, K., Gomez-Barea, A., Ghoniem, A.F. (2022) Advances in biomass torrefaction: Parameters, models, reactors, applications, deployment, and market. Progress in Energy and Combustion Science. Click Here
  25. Halba, A., Thengane, S.K., Arora, P. (2023) A critical outlook on lignocellulosic biomass and plastics co-gasification: A mini-review. Energy & Fuels, 37, 19-35 Click Here
  26. Watts, J., Potter, A., Mohan, V., Kumari, P., Thengane, S.K., Sokhansanj, S., Cao, Y., Kung, K. (2023) Proxy quality control of biomass particles using thermogravimetric analysis and gaussian process regression models. Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining Click Here
  27. Lachos-Perez, D. Vieira, JCM., Missau, J., Anshu, K., Siakpebru, O.K., Thengane, S.K., Morais, A.R.C., Tanabe, E.H., Bertuol, D.A. (2023) Review on biomass pyrolysis with focus on bio-oil upgrading techniques. Analytica Click Here
  28. Anshu, K., Lee, J.S., Mohan, V., Kung, K.S. Sokhansanj, S., Cao, Y., Thengane, S.K. (2023) Torrefaction severity influence on the nutrient composition of biomass. Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery Click Here


  1. 2014900341, Provisional Patent, Australian Patent Office, titled “Production Process for Ammonium Nitrate”, Orica Mining Services, Newcastle, Australia
  2. Patent No. 351164, Application No. 201721043223, Indian Patent Office, titled “A fixed-bed downdraft gasifier for gasification of solid feedstock”, IIT Bombay, India


  1. A life cycle assessment of biomass torrefaction in inert and partially oxidative conditions. Applied Energy “A+B” Symposium, August 2020, MIT, Cambridge, USA
  2. Effective start-up and shutdown strategies for continuously operated biomass torrefaction reactor, Applied Energy “A+B” Symposium, May 2019, MIT, Cambridge, USA


  1. Thengane, S.K., Hoadley, A., Bhattacharya, S., Mitra, S., Bandyopadhyay, S. (2017). Applications of Fuzzy AHP in Analysing Energy Systems. Fuzzy Analytic Hierarchy Process by Ali Emrouznejad and William Ho; CRC Press Taylor and Francis Group
  2. Thengane, S.K. (2019). Advances in Carbon Capture through Thermochemical Conversion of Biomass Waste. Advances in Carbon Management Technologies by Subhas Sikdar and Frank Princiotta; CRC Press Taylor and Francis Group