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Project to tap coal potential

Dhanbad, April 12: Central Fuel Research Institute (CFRI) here and the BHU have jointly taken up a research project to explore the possibility of producing “fullerenes” from coal.

Fullerenes are chemical compounds, which were discovered in 1985 and only the USA has been able to produce Carbon Nano Tubes from graphite and that too in laboratory conditions. It is expensive and priced at Rs 1.28 lakhs for 10 grams, said CFRI director S.K. Srivastava.

The unique structure of fullerenes give them high tensile strength, high electrical conductivity, high resistance to heat and relatively lower susceptibility to chemical activities.

Scientists, excited over the development of fullerenes with their unique electronic, chemical and mechanical properties, believe this is going to be path-breaking and cylindrical fullerenes or nanotubes could be put to various uses including defence and medicinal purpose. The common gas cylinders in use today, they believe, will weigh far less if fullerenes can be used in their manufacture.

The three-year research project has received a grant of Rs 2 crore from the government, which is equally keen to explore the possibility of producing fullerenes from coal, found in abundance in this part of the country.

The CFRI director said the project is the brainchild of one of their brilliant scientists, Ashis Ghosh, and he exuded confidence that the scientists will have the desired breakthrough within the period prescribed. BHU scientist O.N. Srivastava will be collaborating with Ghosh on the project, he added.

CFRI, he said, has already drawn global attention by its pioneering research on the non-fuel usages of coal and the production of engineering plastic out of coal.

With the research on fullerenes, he said, CFRI has joined a select band of research institutions in the world engaged in the high-technology area of fullerenes and nanotubes.

“We are sure to succeed and prove that we are inferior to none as promising scientists are putting their best in this work,” said Srivastav.

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