Knowledge for a sustainable world

BSc, MSc, PhD

Dr. Indika Thushari joined the Natural Resources Institute in November 2022 as a postdoctoral researcher on a project funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) entitled Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Commodity Production; Identifying Opportunities for Sustainable Productivity Growth Across the Agri-Food Chain.

She obtained her first degree, BSc (Hons) in Applied Biology with a specialization in Biodiversity and Conservation, from Rajarata University in Sri Lanka in 2009. In 2015, she earned her MSc in Environmental Science from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. After completing her Ph.D. (Environmental Technology) at Thammasat University, Thailand, in 2018, she extended her research career as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Environmental Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand (September 2018-2019). Her Ph.D. thesis was awarded as the best dissertation 2018 in Science and Technology at Thammasat University, Thailand.

She then worked as a full-time lecturer and program leader in the Department of Environmental Technology at Sri Lanka Technological Campus (SLTC), Sri Lanka (2020-2022). In addition to teaching, she also gained experience in curriculum development and revision while at SLTC, Sri Lanka. She has a strong research interest in sustainability assessment, environmental footprints, and zero waste and circular economy.

  • Life Cycle Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Zero Waste and Circular Economy
  • Sustainable Waste Management and Valorization
  • Climate Change
  • Biofuel

Current research project

Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Commodity Production; Identifying Opportunities for Sustainable Productivity Growth Across the Agri-Food Chain- Funded by Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

This project updates previous research commissioned by Defra to produce a series of life cycle assessments (LCAs) for a range of selected commodities, covering respectively i) domestic (UK) production systems, ii) alternative production systems, iii) substitutable imports, and iv) the incorporation of viable technologies to mitigate a particular environmental impact. Therefore, this project provides an opportunity to apply the latest expertise from LCA to inform a diverse policy landscape, including trade and environmental policy.

Previous research projects

1. Overview of Agro-Waste Management in Sri Lanka: A Guide Toward Resource Circular Economy – Funded by Sri Lanka Technological Campus Responsive Research Seed Grant 2022

The current situation of agricultural waste in Sri Lanka is unclear as few studies have been conducted.

Although a wide range of agricultural wastes are generated in Sri Lanka, there is limited understanding of agricultural waste management in terms of actual availability and potential sources of agricultural waste generation. Therefore, this project aims to understand the waste generation, characteristics, disposal and management strategies, problems and opportunities in different sectors of agriculture and agriculture related industries.

2. Material Flow Analysis and Life Cycle Assessment of Solid Waste Management in Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park -Funded by Ratchadapisek Somphot Fund 2019, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand (Post- doc)

Urban green spaces are becoming increasingly important in any developed or developing city due to increasing urbanization and to maintain a healthy population and economy, such as in Bangkok, Thailand. The maintenance and activities of the users of these urban green spaces generate a significant amount of solid waste, which is a major contributor to the increasing generation of municipal solid waste. Chulalongkorn University's Centenary Park provides space for a variety of users to engage in a wide range of activities. Because it is a recently constructed park, increasing attention has been paid to sustainable maintenance requirements. For that, the mass flow and environmental performance of the park's waste management system were assessed using tools such as material flow analysis (MFA) and life cycle analysis (LCA).

3. Biodiesel Production from Waste Palm Oil using Waste Biomass derived Solid Acid Catalysts (PhD thesis)

Dr. Indika's doctoral thesis was on the production of biodiesel from biomass waste. The production of biodiesel from waste palm oil (WPO) can provide alternative energy while reducing the problems associated with the disposal of WPO. In addition, the use of solid acid catalysts (SACs) from waste biomass for biodiesel production makes the whole process more economical and sustainable. In this study, the desired carbon-based SACs are synthesized from empty palm fruit bunch (PEFB), coconut meal residue (CMR), and coconut coir shell (CCH) waste biomass synthesized using two simple protocols: direct, one-step, concentrated H2SO4 carbonization (DS) and sulfonation of incompletely carbonized biomass (BCS). The results show that PEFB, CMR, and CCH can be used as waste biomass for SAC synthesis and sustainable biodiesel production.

  • Thushari, I., & Babel, S., 2022. Comparative study of the environmental impacts of used cooking oil valorization options in Thailand. Journal of Environmental Management, 310, p.114810.
  • Thushari, I., Vicheanteab, J., & Janjaroen, D., (2020). Material flow analysis and life cycle assessment of solid waste management in urban green areas, Thailand. Sustainable Environment Research, 30(1), 1-17
  • Thushari, I., & Babel, S., (2020). Biodiesel Production from Waste Palm Cooking Oil Using Solid Acid Catalyst Derived from Coconut Meal Residue. Waste and Biomass Valorization, 11(9), 4941-4956.
  • Thushari, I., Babel, S., & Samart, C. (2019). Biodiesel production in an autoclave reactor using waste palm oil and coconut coir husk derived catalyst. Renewable Energy, 134, 125-134
  • Sudrajat, H., Babel, S., Thushari, I., & Laohhasurayotin, K. (2019). Stability of La dopants in NaTaO3 photocatalysts. Journal of Alloys and Compounds, 775, 1277-1285.
  • Sudrajat, H., Thushari, I., & Babel, S. (2019). Chemical state and coordination structure of La cations doped in KTaO3 photocatalysts. Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids, 127, 94-100
  • Thushari, I., & Babel, S. (2018). Sustainable utilization of waste palm oil and sulfonated carbon catalyst derived from coconut meal residue for biodiesel production. Bioresource Technology, 248(Part A), 199-203
  •  Thushari, I., & Babel, S. (2018). Preparation of solid acid catalysts from waste biomass and their application for microwave-assisted biodiesel production from waste palm oil. Waste Management & Research, 36(8), 719-728
  • Thushari, P., & Babel, S. (2018). Biodiesel production from waste palm oil using palm empty fruit bunch-derived novel carbon acid catalyst. Journal of Energy Resources Technology, 140(3)
  • Thushari, I., & Babel, S. (2019). Activity of Carbon-Based Solid Acid Catalyst Derived from Palm Empty Fruit Bunch for Esterification of Palmitic Acid. Environment and Natural Resources Journal, 17(1), 54-62
  • Ranwala S.M.W., & Thushari P. G. I (2012). Current status and management options for invasive plants at the Mihintale Wildlife Sanctuary. National Science Foundation, Sri Lanka 40 (1), 67-76

Postdoctoral Research fellow in the project ‘Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Commodity Production; Identifying Opportunities for Sustainable Productivity Growth Across the Agri-Food Chain’.

  • Post- Doctoral Research Fellowship, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand (2018-2019)
  • A title of the best Ph.D. dissertation 2018 in Science and Technology, Thammasat University, Thailand
  • TU Research Scholar, Contract No 1/2559, Thammasat University, Thailand (2016)
  • Reviewer for some academic journals and conferences.
Send an Email