4 Minutes with…Dr. Pramod Kumbhar, CTO and Executive Vice President, Praj Matrix -R&D Center

February 13, 2018 |

Tell us about your company and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.

Praj is a 33 year “young” company offering end to end solution for biofuels and renewable chemicals. The “end to end” solution involves feed stock handling, conversion technology (bio or chemo catalytic), zero liquid discharge technology for effluent treatment and EPC services under one roof.

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months.

As Chief Technology Officer of the company, I look after the technology development, technology monitoring and scouting and research collaborations across globe. Praj has a world class R&D center, Praj-Matrix, dedicated to the development of green technologies. At Praj-Matrix we have about 90+ scientists (Biologists, Chemists) and engineers working together as cross functional teams. Our main achievement of last few years is the 2G ethanol technology development which now has been successfully scaled to a demo plant (12 MT/day dry biomass)and we now have signed up to put up three commercial plants by the India oil companies. Our main focus for next 12 months is to improve the viability of the 2G ethanol, so that private players can put up next wave of plants (dream is to bring it on par with 1G economics). We are also looking at development of few platform bio-chemicals based on LC sugars which we want to take up for development in collaboration with like minded partners.

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?   

– Making the 2G (LC) ethanol technology viable without Government subsidies

– Commerciliazation of one or two platform biochemcials based on LC sugars

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the Advanced Bioeconomy, what would you change? 

Consistent, long term and supportive Government policies for biofuels and bio chemicals across geographies.

Of all the reasons that influenced you to join the Advanced Bioeconomy industry, what single reason stands out for you as still being compelling and important to you?   

the excitement and challenges in biotechnolgies the outcoem of which will make a positive difference to society as whole and safe guarding the environment in particular.

Where are you from?

I was born in a small village in India and spent my childhood in farm, breathing clean air and eating farm fresh food.

What was your subject focus (e.g. major) in university (undergraduate and/or graduate, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway?

I did my bachelors, masters and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the premier chemical engineering institute in India ” University Department of Chemical Technology” (UDCT, now called ICT) in Mumbai. Being in top three in rank at high school in the region, I was able to get admission in UDCT. Of course I liked both chemistry and engineering.

Who do you consider your mentors – could be personal, business, or just people you have read about and admire. What have you learned from them?  

What’s the biggest lesson you ever learned during a period of adversity?   

Never to leave your passion and what you believe in. Get into details and work from first principle to solve the problem. Lead the team from front and take responsibility of your actions.

What hobbies do you pursue, away from your work in the industry?   

I am a voracious reader and like to watch sports. Play soccer with my son.

What books or articles (excluding The Digest) are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?   

Finished re-reading the book “Prey” by Michael Crichton after 12 years. It is very close to what the nano and synthetic biology is moving towards.

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?  

Ladakh region in Himalayas! It is just unbelievable nature’s beauty!

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Category: Million Minds

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