By Mohd Khairi Idham Amran
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 (Bernama) -- Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), in collaboration with Japan's Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), is building a pilot plant in Keningau, Sabah to spur palm oil industry players to adopt a green technology approach.
UPM Environmental Biotechnology Research Group leader Prof Dr Mohd Ali Hassan said the plant, expected to come on line on April next year, promises zero discharge from palm oil mills, drastically reducing air and water pollution.
"We hope when we build the pilot plant, industry players can come and see that the technology is viable," he told Bernama on the sidelines of the Asian Congress on Biotechnology 2015 here today.
Mohd Ali, who is also Head of the Industry Community Relations Unit at UPM's Faculty of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, said the pilot plant is a project under the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development Programme (Satrep).
He said under the programme, UPM received RM15 million in funding, including RM12 million from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) and RM3 million from the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia.
Mohd Ali said the pilot plant produces bio-based nano-material products from oil palm biomass which can be blended with plastic without compromising the end products while using recycled water, thus reducing the pollution of water sources by palm oil mill effluent (POME).
It is estimated that in 2012, the Malaysian oil palm industry produced about 83 million tonnes of solid biomass and 60-70 million tonnes of POME.
Most of the solid waste was either burnt or used for mulching at the plantation, while POME was treated through anaerobic and aerobic treatment systems before being discharged into rivers, practices considered unfavourable to biodiversity conservation.