Kuala Lumpur: US-based biochemical company Gevo Inc will invest RM1.65bil to build the world's first bio-isobutanol from biomass manufacturing plant at the Kertih BioPolymer Park in Terengganu.
Slated for full operation by 2015, the 60,000-tonne bio-isobutanol production plant will be constructed in phases on 40ha.
It is expected to generate RM5bil of cumulative gross national Income by 2020, and provide about 200 jobs.
The investment plan by Gevo was announced during an exchange of documents ceremony held in conjunction with BIO International Convention 2012 in Boston, which was witnessed by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.
“The Government had invested in Gevo through the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund (MLSCF) during the company's early stages as a medium-term strategy to harness the potential of the technology to produce bio-isobutanol from woodchips and oil palm biomass.”
“The now established technology which will be returning to Malaysia through this investment represents the achievement of our calculated strategy to drive the proliferation of the industrial biotechnology industry in Malaysia and will be key to the country's bioeconomy ecosystem,” said Ongkili.
Gevo president and chief operating officer Dr Christopher Ryan said Malaysia is an interesting location for the set-up due to the support provided by the Government when it comes to relevant incentives, infrastructure set-up, availability of raw materials and production cost.
Gevo is a leading renewable and advance biofuels company that is developing bio-based alternatives to petroleum-based products.
Gevo is also the world's largest bioisobutanol producer and is currently producing bio-plastic bottles for Coca-Cola. Isobutanol is an important platform chemical which can be converted into products such as solvents and coatings, bio-plastics, bio-fibre and bio-fuels.
The plant will be a breakthrough as bio-isobutanol will be commercially produced from woodchips and oil palm biomass for the first time. Isobutanol, with a global market of RM14bil per annum, is traditionally produced from fossil fuels, but advancement in industrial biotechnology has shifted production focus towards fermentation from renewable and sustainable carbohydrates.
Gevo's announcement comes following the announcement of the collaboration between the Terengganu state government, BiotechCorp and the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) to develop 1,000ha of the Kertih BioPolymer Park as Asia's largest biorefinery complex.
ECERDC CEO Datuk Jebasingam Issace John said ECERDC would provide the necessary infrastructure as well as attractive fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for investors including Gevo at the park.
“Infrastructure works by ECERDC at the project site have already been completed and construction of the facility is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2012,” he said.
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