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Japan – Malaysia to launch joint sustainable palm oil industry study

Japan – Malaysia to launch joint sustainable palm oil industry study
At the MoU signing ceremony: Yasutoshi Nishimura (left) Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; Shahrir Bin Shariff, Gas Malaysia Bhd; Masahiro Aika, JGC Holdings Corp.; and Kazuhiko Chikamoto, JANUS (photo courtesy JGC).

JGC Holdings Corporation and Japan NUS (JANUS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Malaysian natural gas sales, marketing, and distribution company Gas Malaysia Bhd (GMB) regarding the joint study of sustainable domestic palm oil industry development through effective utilization of unused resources from palm oil milling in the country.

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Malaysia is the world’s second-largest producer of palm oil after Indonesia, a useful product, whether as a cooking oil or an ingredient in cosmetics and many other daily necessities.

However, palm oil mill effluent (POME) and empty fruit bunches (EFB) from the production process emit large amounts of methane (CH4) gas, which is said to have a greenhouse gas (GHG) effect of 25 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2).

This environmental issue hampers the country’s efforts toward carbon neutrality. Another challenge is that the palm oil industry discards thinned woody biomass waste such as palm fronds and oil palm trunks, and other potential raw materials that could be used for biocrude oil or biochemicals.

Develop biomethane, biocrude oil, and pellets

This project will study the feasibility of converting the methane sources of POME and EFB into biomethane (aka renewable natural gas – RNG) fuel and biomass pellet fuel through recovery and processing.

Potential biocrude oil and biochemical applications for thinned and woody biomass waste will also be investigated.

The participants intend to contribute to sustainability in the palm oil industry through effective utilization of the unused resources generated by the industry, with another goal being the reduction of Scope 1 CO2 emissions by energy and biofuel consumers.

Mapping feedstock arisings and distribution

Specifically, GMB will provide information on facilities with good access to feedstock in Peninsular Malaysia and on bioenergy (including natural gas) distribution networks.

JGC Holdings and JANUS will study the solutions needed to convert industrial POME, EFB, and thinned/woody biomass waste to biofuel and biochemicals.

The supply chain will also be studied, with one facet being the optimal means of supplying fuel to small general services in Malaysia through biofuel liquefaction.

This research will extend to the use of carbon credits, biomethane certification, and other systems that enhance the sustainable value of any products resulting from the project.

An Asia Zero Emission Community initiative

The joint study will tie in with the Asia Zero Emission Community (AZEC) Initiative announced by the government of Japan in 2022.

GMB is making strides in renewable energy to foster long-term sustainable development in its business activities, guided by its vision to be an innovative value-added energy solutions provider.

This venture is part of GMB’s diversification strategy to grow its non-regulated business adjacent to the gas value chain to further consolidate its position in the industry. This initiative will enable GMB to be a catalyst for the greater use of green gases.

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