Oil palm biomass being sent from M'sia to Italy to be made into industrial sugar

  • Business
  • Thursday, 31 May 2012

PETALING JAYA: MYBiomass Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH) and Sime Darby Bhd, has dispatched its first oil palm biomass shipment for testing.

Twelve tonnes of oil palm biomass would be shipped to a pilot plant in Italy which converts biomass into industrial sugar, said MIGHT, an agency in the Prime Minister's Department, in a statement.

The move comes as the three parties kick off cooperation under the Malaysian Biomass Initiative endorsed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the second Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council meeting this month.

FGVH and Sime Darby each own a 40% stake in MYBiomass and MIGHT the remaining 20% in the special-purpose vehicle.

It is currently studying the feasibility for a project to convert oil palm biomass into high-value green chemicals.

The intellectual property gained during the testing phase had the potential to make Malaysia a world leader in green chemical production from biomass, MIGHT said.

“We are excited by the pace of development as we watch the first shipment of trunks, empty fruit bunches and fronds sent for testing in existing facilities in Europe,” MIGHT president and chief executive officer Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman, said.

The shipment to Italy is intended for preliminary analyses, testing and technology adaptation in the Malaysian market.

The Malaysian feedstock would be tested for its suitability to be converted into industrial sugar which could be fermented into building blocks of high-value green chemicals.

If the feedstock was found to be adequately scalable at a commercial level, MIGHT said there were plans for the three-party venture to build a plant in Malaysia that could help deliver a significant value boost to the current commodity production of crude palm oil.

“This deal goes well beyond the benefit of only a few stakeholders and has the power to radically transform the way we use our natural resources.

“This has a 360-degree impact on everything from creating thousands of jobs in rural communities to downstream activities in logistics and transportation and, perhaps most importantly, new, high-value, knowledge-based growth in these science and technology-related fields of the bio-economy,” Yusoff said.

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