Sarawak set to produce sustainable aviation fuel through microalgae project, says Abang Jo

Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg (right) speaking at a press conference after launching the Chitose Carbon Capture Central Sarawak facility on Wednesday (May 10). - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak is set to produce sustainable aviation fuel from its first microalgae carbon capture facility at the Sejingkat Power Plant here, says Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The Premier said preliminary research showed that the Chitose Carbon Capture Central (C4) Sarawak facility could produce 350 tonnes of algae biomass per year on its 5ha site.

"This can be processed to produce 87 tonnes of lipids, from which can be extracted about 45 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel.

"The biomass can also produce 192 tonnes of protein and 52 tonnes of carbohydrates, which have potential therapeutic properties to fight bacteria and cancer, but this has to be explored further by scientists," he told a press conference after launching C4 Sarawak on Wednesday (May 10).

The microalgae project, which began in 2020, is led by Japan's Chitose Group in collaboration with Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC).

Chitose Group is responsible for the cultivation and production of microalgae biomass and product research and development, while SEB provides exhausted gas containing carbon dioxide to cultivate microalgae from its coal-fired power plant through a flue gas delivery system. Researchers and skilled manpower from SBC will assist with the cultivation and production of high-quality microalgae biomass.

Abang Johari said the next step was to scale up the production of algae biomass to produce sustainable aviation fuel.

He said a site between Balingian and Tanjung Manis in central Sarawak had been identified for the proposed large-scale production facility.

"I have proposed to our Japanese partners that we set a production level of say 6,000 tonnes a month, then we can calculate how much land is needed to produce that target.

"This will give us a total of 72,000 tonnes a year, which will bring in billions to the state revenue while helping the world to have net zero carbon emissions, especially in the aviation industry," he said.

In his speech earlier, Abang Johari said sales from the lipids, proteins and carbohydrates of the algae biomass could potentially generate an economic value of RM2bil to RM3bil a year.

He said C4 Sarawak laid the foundation for a new green initiative to benefit the people, create new jobs and grow the economy in line with global trends towards sustainability and mitigating climate change.

"As a start, this 5ha site will serve as a good example of managing carbon in a circular economy, while we gather data to enhance the technology and scale it up to 100ha and expand it to 2,000ha in the future if it is commercially viable," he added.

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