GAIN from GARBAGE
S. Rajendran talks biotechnology in his own simple way. But before delving into the subject, he offers me biscuits to eat. What is the connection between the biscuits and biotechnology here?
The Associate Professor of Botany at Saraswathi Narayanan College has successfully cultivated mushroom with the use of organic manure obtained from municipal solid waste. Over the years it has been his attempt to optimally use the waste generated in the city.
“Mushroom is a storehouse of proteins,” he says. “It can be consumed as a fresh vegetable as well as in the powdered form.”
“The organic substance is separated from the waste and oyster mushroom is cultivated through the solid state fermentation technology,” he explains. It is a process where theorganic matter is seeded with mushroom spawns. The substrate is then left in a temperature controlled room for 15 days to get the first yield of mushroom.
Once the results were encouraging, he branched out and applied the same technology to municipal waste. He first demonstrated the study in Paramakudi Municipality.
After the mushroom harvest, the fungal fermented substrate is used to make briquettes. “The calorific value of these briquettes can be upgraded to that of lignite coal. These briquettes are potential power-generating agents as well as efficient fuel,” notes Rajendran. Apart from the briquettes, he has also made tiles out of agricultural substrate, which are efficient acoustic enhancement material.