10/05/2023 04:36 PM

KUCHING, May 10 (Bernama) -- Sarawak has launched its first industrial microalgae production facility, the CHITOSE Carbon Capture Central Sarawak (C4 Sarawak) at Sejingkat here, today.

Officiated by Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, the five-hectare facility uses flue gas waste containing carbon dioxide (CO2) to enhance algae production on an industrial scale.

In his speech, Abang Johari said algae biomass generated by the facility can be used in high-quality products such as food and animal feed, paints, cosmetics, pharmaceutical ingredients, and most importantly, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

“Based on our preliminary estimation, a 2,000-hectare commercial plant can produce up to 140,000 tonnes of algae biomass annually,” he said.

Abang Johari said depending on the technology used, research has shown that a five-hectare site can generate 350 tonnes of algae biomass per year, which can be processed into 87 tonnes of lipid, capable of producing about 45 tonnes of SAF.

Additionally, Abang Johari said some microalgae have been reported to have anti-cancer properties that can be used in cancer treatment.

“As a start, the five-hectare C4 Sarawak 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 100 hectares and subsequently expand it to 2,000 hectares in the future if it is commercially viable,” he added.

A 2,000-hectare facility can create up to 5,000 new job opportunities and decarbonise about 200,000 tonnes of carbon annually, said Abang Johari.

The microalgae project, which began in 2020, is led by Japan's CHITOSE Group (the primary contractor for the microalgae research project), Sarawak Energy and the Sarawak Biodiversity Council.

The project is fully funded by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation and managed by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.