KUCHING (Feb 28): The world’s largest mass microalgae biomass production facility known as Chitose Carbon Capture Central (C4), utilising flat-panel photo-bioreactor technology, is set for official opening here in April this year.
According to Chitose Laboratory Corp executive officer and chief bioengineer Takanori Hoshino, the project is funded by the Japanese government and involves collaboration with Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC), Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) and ENEOS Corporation.
“This project is being funded by the Japanese government for five years until the end of fiscal year 2024 and after that, we will use the C4 for commercial production of various products from the microalgae biomass,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Borneo Post here yesterday.
Hoshino said the project is funded by the Japanese government to the tune of approximately 2.5 billion yen (more than RM80 million) to demonstrate the mass production of microalgae biomass throughout the year.
Microalgae biomass can be processed for various commercial applications such as jet fuel, plastic, paints, surfactants, truck fuel, proteins, feed and food products, as well as for pharmaceutical and cosmetics purposes.
“For example, starting from 2027, it is going to be mandatory for all airline companies globally to have certain percentage of their jet fuels to be mixed with biofuel and there is currently not enough supply of bio-jet fuel,” he said.
Hoshino added that once bio-jet fuel – otherwise known as ‘sustainable aviation fuel’ – could be mass produced from microalgae biomass, they would eye exporting the product not only to Southeast Asian countries, but also to the United States and Europe.
According to him, the existing microalgae cultivation farm at C4 spans about five hectares and there is a plan to expand the farm to 100 hectares in three years, and 2,000 hectares towards 2030.
Moreover, Hoshino highlighted that Sarawak was selected as a preferred location for the microalgae farm due to the ideal temperature throughout the year, abundance of fresh water, and the state being safe from major natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes.
“Sarawak is also strategically located to access major international markets such as Japan, Taiwan, China, and Singapore, as well as having the availability of qualified and skilled local workforce.”
The C4 is located next to the Sejingkat power station and SEB is supplying exhausted gas containing carbon dioxide for the microalgae cultivation.
The SBC, meanwhile, provides qualified researchers and manpower for the project.
Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg is expected to officiate at the opening ceremony for the C4 this April 4.
A delegation of industry experts and potential investors from Japan, as well as Sarawak government officials, will also attend the event.
The physical construction of C4 has reached completion, and it would take about two years for the completion of the planned demonstration.