Sarawak to produce green aviation fuel from algae

KUCHING: Sarawak is set to produce sustainable aviation fuel from its first microalgae carbon capture facility at the Sejingkat Power Plant here, with plans to scale up production in future.

Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said the Chitose Carbon Capture Central (C4) Sarawak facility used microalgae to produce renewable products, including sustainable aviation fuel.

“Based on research here, the algae biomass of 350 tonnes per year on this 5ha site can be processed to produce 87 tonnes of lipids.

“From this, about 45 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel can be extracted,” he said after launching C4 Sarawak yesterday.

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 exhaust 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 facility.

“I have proposed to our Japanese partners that we set a production level of 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 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 from 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 while we gather data to enhance 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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