Research findings on algae-based biofuels in six months

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KUCHING: The outcome of a research by the Sarawak government on the economic viability of using algae to produce biofuel would be known in six months’ time at the earliest.

Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said the research, being carried out by researchers engaged by the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), would involve determining the volume and price of biofuel that would make commercial production viable.

“If the price is reasonable, (and) the volume can be commercialised, then we can produce it in big volumes. We will scale it up and from there, we could even produce biofuel for aircraft,” he told reporters after officiating at the Sarawak Education Expo here today.

He said such researches require highly skilled people with biology and chemistry background, and this is one instance to explain his emphasis for more students to pursue tertiary studies in science fields, rather than social science.

He urged Sarawakians to adopt a culture of curiosity as a way to nurture the spirit of exploring solutions to bring greater development to the state.

“With the right technology, we can produce it (algae biofuel), and we will be ahead of the Arabs in producing this renewable oil.”

He added that not only algae could be used to produce biofuel but could also be used to produce medicines.

Earlier this month, Abang Johari said that Sarawak has an abundance of sources of algae that can be extracted to produce aviation biofuel or algae-based biofuels, and therefore the state was looking into the possibilities of cultivating algae in its coastal areas as part of its effort in exploring the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

“We can use carbon dioxide as a solvent agent to extract the oil from the algae,” he said.

He added a lab would be set up to carry out further studies on algae production in the state.

“I want to do a lab first, and Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) Energy will be working with researchers to explore new ways of growing algae.

“Once we have the lab, once is it proven… Then we see how we can grow this algae throughout our coast,” he said.

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