LAHAD DATU: Biorefining, which is the processing of biomass, will soon be a reality in the Lahad Datu palm oil industrial cluster (POIC Lahad Datu) here.
Elevance Renewable Sciences, a specialty chemicals company based in Illinois, the United States, will partner with Malaysia’s Genting Plantations Bhd, through its subsidiary Genting Integrated Biorefinery Sdn Bhd, to build a 240,000-tonne factory, the first in Malaysia, at POIC Lahad Datu.
The US-Malaysia partnership is on a 25:75 basis.
Datuk Dr Pang Teck Wai, the chief executive officer of POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd, the developer of POIC Lahad Datu, said the entry of Elevance meant the transfer of frontier technologies and the beginning of the realisation of a cluster of biorefineries in Sabah.
Elevance will use its metathesis technology to produce, from biomass and renewable oils, high-performance olefins and specialty chemicals that can be used in multiple end-product applications, including lubricants, surfactants and detergents.
Metathesis biorefineries are similar to petroleum-based refineries but consume less energy and greenhouse gases as they employ Nobel Prize-winning innovations.
Genting Plantations is one of over 40 investors in POIC Lahad Datu. It bought over the South Korean-owned Global Bio Diesel in 2012. It is an integrated plantation group and owns sizable plantations in Sabah and oil palm mills.
It recently joined forces with another Sabah-based plantation company Hap Seng to cement long-term supply of raw materials, including crude palm oil and oil palm biomass.
“We have been talking for a while about the investment potential in the biomass sector and it’s heartening to know that something concrete is emerging.
“This will further boost our confidence in developing a biorefinery cluster in POIC Lahad Datu that will leverage on our availability of biomass and turn Sabah into a global biorefinery hub in the future,” Dr Pang told a press conference yesterday.
The proposed biorefinery in Lahad Datu will be Elevance’s third in the world. Its first plant, which is in operation, is a joint venture with Singapore-based Wilmar International and is located in Gresik, Indonesia. The second one is being constructed in Natchez, Mississippi, and is expected to start operation in 2016.
By virtue of it being the largest oil palm planting state in Malaysia, Sabah has been designated by the Malaysian government as the hub for the development of biomass for second generation biofuels.
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