By R Kamalavacini
KUALA LUMPUR: Sirim Bhd is aiming to set up the world first bio-natural gas (BioNG) demonstration plant in Sabah to commercialise the renewable product captured from palm oil mill effluents.
Its president and CEO, Dr Zainal Abidin Mohd Yusof, said Sirim will extend a proposal to the Finance Ministry to release a fund of RM12 million to build the plant.
“We estimate the demonstration plant would cost about RM12 million, 10 times bigger than the pilot plant,” he told the media after a working visit by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, Dr Ewon Ebin, to the BioNG pilot plant developed by Sirim at Carey Island in Selangor last week.
The project will be developed in cooperation with Sime Darby Bhd’s plantation arm, Sime Darby Plantations, but Zainal said Sirim is still looking for strategic partners to facilitate the commercialisation of the BioNG widely.
“Currently, the pilot plant can produce 500Nm3 (cubic metres) of BioNG per day, which is equivalent to 500 litres of petrol per day,” he said, adding the proposed demonstration plant in Sabah would produce about 5,000cm per day.
Work on the BioNG pilot plant, developed by Sirim Renewable Energy Research Centre, began in 2009 and was completed in mid-2013.
“If we manage to get the allocation from the ministry as soon as possible, the demonstration plant will be developed within two years,” he said.
Zainal Abidin said BioNG could become an alternative fuel as it can replace diesel.
“The fuel has been successfully tested on vehicles,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ewon said there are about 425 palm oil mills in the country whereby each of them have the potential to produce BioNG from palm oil effluents.
“If all the mills produces BioNG from palm oil effluents, it is estimated to be equivalent to 17% of the overall natural gas consumption and 10% of overall petrol consumption in Malaysia,” said the minister.
He said the ministry will propose to the ministry to release sufficient allocation to facilitate Sirim and Sime Darby in developing the pioneer BioNG plant in Sabah, the largest palm oil producing state in Malaysia.
Sirim, formerly known as the Standards and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia, is a government-owned corporate organisation entrusted to promote industrial and technological research and be the national organisation for standards and quality.