contrastBtngrayscaleBtn oku-icon


plusBtn crossBtn minusBtn


This site
is mobile


C4 Sarawak poised for major expansion

C4 Sarawak poised for major expansion

19 Feb 2024

Sarawak’s first industrial microalgae production project led by Japan’s Chitose Group is set for a major expansion.

Known as Chitose Carbon Capture Central Sarawak (C4 Sarawak), the project, which also involves partners Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC), was launched in Sejingkat near here in May 2023.

The Chitose Group, which is a family of biotechnology companies leading in the global bioeconomy space, is the primary contractor for the microalgae research project which is fully funded by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation and managed by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

SEB, which operates the Sejingkat coal-fired power plant, is providing the necessary exhausted gas containing carbon dioxide from the plant through a flue gas delivery system to cultivate microalgae.

SBC, on the other hand, offers qualified researchers and skilled manpower to assist with the cultivation and production of high-quality microalgae biomass.

C4 Sarawak is currently the world’s largest microalgae production facility.

Chitose chief bio-engineer-cum-executive officer Takanori Hoshino said the five-ha microalgae production facility has been completed and microalgae production has begun.

“We plan to expand the microalgae production facility to cover an area of 100 ha,” he said after a Chitose delegation headed by group chief executive officer (CEO) Yomohiro Fujita met recently with Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg to discuss the expansion project which is expected to commence shortly.

Fujita has pledged to continue expanding the C4 Sarawak project to achieve 2,000 ha by 2030.

Based on the preliminary estimates of the pilot facility at SBC, an investment into a 2,000-ha commercial plant can produce up to 140,000 tonnes of algae biomass annually.

Sarawak, according to Hoshino, was selected as a preferred location for the microalgae farm due to the state’s ideal temperature throughout the year, abundance of fresh water and the state being safe from major natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes.

In addition, Sarawak is strategically located to access major international markets like Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and China, and the availability of a qualified and skilled local workforce.

Microalgae biomass can be processed for various commercial applications, such as jet fuel, paints, surfactants, truck fuel, proteins, feed and food products as well as for pharmaceutical and cosmetic purposes.

Starting from 2027, Hoshino said it is going to be mandatory for all airline companies globally to have certain percentage of their jet fuels to be mixed with bio-jet fuel, otherwise known as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), and there is currently not enough supply of bio-jet fuel.

Once bio-jet fuel can be mass produced from microalgae biomass, Sarawak plans to export the fuel not only to South-East Asian countries but also the United States and Europe.

At the launch of C4 Sarawak, Abang Johari said that depending on technology used, some researches show that algae biomass of 350 tonnes per year could be generated from a five-ha farm, and can be processed into 87 tonnes of lipid capable of producing about 45 tonnes of SAF.

At the same time, this amount of biomass can also produce 192 tonnes of protein and 52 tonnes of carbohydrates.

He said Sarawak is fortunate to have 600 strains of various algae species that are kept in the depository for research at SBC.

The premier said by using carbon dioxide, a by-product of electricity production from the coal-fired plant, for microalgae production, C4 Sarawak is reducing emissions while contributing to Sarawak’s decarbonisation targets and Green Energy Agenda.

Additionally, he said C4 Sarawak can drive carbon capture, usage and storage exploration, which is crucial to fulfilling Sarawak’s Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030, aiming it as an essential step forward into the journey towards a sustainable future.

Meanwhile, the SBC microalgae production facility has attracted foreign interest with the visit of an European Union (EU) delegation on Feb 15.

The delegation, which was led by ambassador and head of EU delegation to Malaysia, Michalis Rokas, was briefed and gained an understanding of the growing and processing methods used for algae production and its various applications.

Source: The Star