Malaysian Firm Taps Nypa Palms Tress For Ethanol

April 11, 2007
Nypa palm is capable of producing twice the yield of sugar cane.

Pioneer Bio Industries Corp. said April 10 it has the potential to solve global warming issues and the world's energy woes by pioneering the production of ethanol from nypa palm trees as an alternative fuel source. Officials said the company had already secured a five-year contract worth more than $66 billion from a global trading firm to supply the nypa palm-based ethanol.

Pioneer Bio chairman Badrul Shah Mohamad Noor said the company was working closely with the Malaysian government's biofuel project and expected its first refinery to begin commercial production by the end of 2008.

"By 2020, ethanol will represent 30% of global energy. With the existing nypa palm that we have identified, we can produce enough ethanol for the requirements of the world," Badrul Shah said.

Ethanol is produced commercially as a biofuel in Brazil and Europe, derived from other plant sources such as sugar cane, cassava, corn and sugar beet. Studies by the company's scientists indicate the nypa palm is capable of producing up to 15,600 liters of ethanol per hectare, more than twice the yield of sugar cane.

Badrul Shah said Pioneer Bio would invest some 43.2 billion ringgit (US$12.53 billion) to build 15 refineries in Malaysia, as well as an integrated township, which would include a port to export the ethanol produced. The plant will be built in northern Perak state, where the company has also secured rights from the state government to extract ethanol from nypa trees growing wild in swamplands along the coastal area.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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