CSIR – National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST)

Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Govt.Of India Thiruvananthapuram.


Research @ NIIST


The mission of Agro-Processing and Technology Division is to provide innovative high quality Scientific and technical solutions in the field of process and product development and knowledge generation in the areas related to lipid science, spices & flavors and natural products .The division core competence is on process and product development and on the transformation of such processes into fully engineered technology packages for commercial exploitation for the benefit of society. The division has se up large number of commercial plants in many states and extended technical expertise in making policy decisions in relevant areas by governmental and non-governmental agencies. More recently the division has been focusing on exploitation of the herbal wealth of the region. Concerted effects are on to create the required infrastructural facilities and strengthen intellectual capabilities for undertaking chemo and bio-evaluation of herbs and natural products in order to develop neutraceuticals.Phytochemicals and functional food products. The division has well trained manpower, pilot plant facilities and sophisticated instrument to undertake research programmes in partnership with industries.

Microbial Processes and Technology Division
The mandate of the Division is to conduct high quality R & D in specific frontier areas of Biotechnology. Significant emphasis is put in exploration and value addition of regional bioresources while ensuring environmental sustainability. The divisional r & D and industrial consultancy activities are linked with programmes of national importance through networking with national and international organizations. Collaborative research and linkages with reputed national and international institutions is a major strength of division. The current focus areas of the division are(i)bioprocess and product development (ii)energy and environment and(iii)health and genomics, which are well aligned with priority sectors of CSIR such as Affordable health care, Energy and Chemistry& Environment. In the area of bioprocess and bioproducts, the division’s emphasis is on production of industrial enzymes, biopolymers and amino acids. Considerable success has been achieved in developing microbial-based eco-friendly process for production of bioethanol from lignocellulose feed stocks .Under the energy sector, the main focus is on developing microbial based polymers such as PLA and PHB using agro residues as feed-stocks available in the country, which focus on multi feed based processes. A pilot plant is being established for the lignocelluloses bioethanol programme. Microbes have been isolates from the Western Ghats in Kerala and deposited in the NII Culture Collection, which is a registered depository for the culture collection having ~1200 actinomycetes, Yeast, bacterial and fungal cultures.

The vision of the division is to be internationally recognized for excellence in discovering new knowledge on functional materials and natural products/bioactive molecules and to develop such molecules/materials for industrial applications using innovative cost competitive and environmentally acceptable processing technologies. This division has the following sections: Photo sciences and Photonics, Inorganic and Polymeric Materials and Organic Chemistry. The activities of the Division are related to (i) working on fundamental and applied aspects of Photochemistry and related areas with the purpose of developing photonic materials for applications in solar energy harvesting, electro optical devices and photo medicine,(ii)design and develop inorganic materials and polymers for applications in areas relate to energy storage, lightning and molecular sensing for imaging and diagnostics and (iii) to isolate/synthesize new bioactive molecules and to develop state of the art synthetic organic methodologies for the fine chemical industry.

The mandate of the materials Division is development of materials for strategic and societal applications. The division has activities related to nano-ceramics, electronic materials, super conducting and magnetic materials, alloys and composites. Under the nano-ceramics activity, sol-gel based processes have been developed for production of nano-rare earths phosphates and oxides, based on which a pilot plant has been set up at M/s Indian Rare Earths Ltd.Kollam(Kerala).Processes for fly ash, red mud and new clay mixes have been successfully transferred to various industries. Nano-lithium dioxide coated ceramic tiles with self cleaning and anti algal activities have been prepared based on which a plant has been set up by BHEL in Bangalore for preparation of Water treatment membranes. The electronic materials activity lays emphasis on communication and energy. The super conducting and magnetic materials group has fabricated long length high Tc wires and tapes for cryogen free magnets and fusion magnets. The division has successfully developed materials and components for space, defence and foe societal applications such as high strength aluminum and magnesium alloys with considerable grain refinement. Under the minerals area an environmentally safe process of synthetic rutile was developed and transferred to industry.

Environmental Technology Division
Environmental Technology Division (ETD) develops innovative processes and technologies for value addition to resources of the region and for the management of the region’s environment. ETD comprises engineers, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, biologists and computer scientists. These multi-disciplinary skills come together to address real problems. Based on the R&D programmes, there are four groups within the Division. The Environment Technology group is engaged in the development of processes for odour control, anaerobic treatment of solid waste, industrial water purification, biofuel from marine microalgae, bioremediation of perchlorate in waste water and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) studies. The Chemical and Process Engineering group is involved in Characterization and Beneficiation Studies on clays and other non-metallic minerals and the development of Reverse Flow Dryers for agricultural products. The Computational Modelling group provides computational tools and services for designing engineering and chemical processes and investigating the complex phenomena in biological systems. The Dioxin Research Unit is focusing on the monitoring, control and phase out of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) with special reference to dioxins and furans from various industrial and non-industrial activities in Southern states of the country.

The institute has an active programme targeting societal development. Recently CSIR has identified CSIR-800 as a thrust area with a vision of inclusive growth and improvement in the quality of life of the 800 million people at the bottom of economic pyramid, through S & T interventions. Under this scheme NIIST has taken up a project named Green Enterprises for Micro-Sector(GEMS).A number of technologies that have the potential to crate green micro-enterprises that generate income and employment for low income groups and are at the same time beneficial to the environment, have been identified, namely i)environment friendly extraction of natural fibers ,ii)natural fiber based biodegradable household articles, iii)value addition of under-exploited and under-utilized agro products, iv)agro-technologies for cultivation and post harvest management of medicinal, aromatic plants and v)development of green household sanitation devices. Linkages are being built up with NGOs and appropriate Governmental bodies for delivery of the technologies in a way that would benefit large number of people in the low income group .The institute has also been supporting in Kerala Tile Sector in modernization of infrastructure, training manpower and setting up quality control laboratories. Studies on industrial feasibility for preparation of coir and banana fiber reinforced polymer composite panels and building components have also been conducted.