Biochemical Engineering for Biomass Refinery
Abstract: Sustainable development has always been one of Malaysia’s key macro agenda that covers the three areas of development i.e. social, economy and the environment. Within this context, the biomass industry offers tremendous opportunity for Malaysia to achieve this agenda. The agricultural sector generates large amount of biomass, that just two decades ago was considered a waste but now increasingly valued as a resource for economic exploitation.
The amount of biomass generated annually in Malaysia totals to about 96 million tonnes (wet). The types of biomass available include palm-based biomass (empty fruit bunches, kernel shell, mesocarp fibers and liquid effluent), rice-based biomass (rice husk and straw), forestry waste (saw dust, timber offcuts), rubber wood as well as municipal solid waste. It is estimated that optimum utilization of these biomass resources will generate gross national income of USD 5-10 bil. per annum with total investments of USD15-20 bil.
Malaysia is presently moving towards achieving higher level of economic and environmental sustainability via the utilization of the biomass resources in areas such as bio-energy generation, production of compost and biofertilisers, manufacturing of eco-products as well as production of bio-based fuels and chemicals. Both large corporations as well as the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are actively participating, investing and innovating in this new area of economy. The application of advanced biomass conversion technologies is also a key factor in producing high value products from the biomass resource.