Asia has long been considered an area of potential major growth for the bio-based industry. With a growing population and abundant quantities of readily available biomass the region is ripe for taking a lead in our growing industry. And now, Australian based Leaf Resources together with Leaf Development, its US-based joint development partner, has announced significant milestones related to the development in Malaysia of at least one commercial-scale, second generation,bio-chemical production facility. Leaf Resources focus in on is commercialising the GlycellTM process. Whats this? Well, its a technology that uses a low cost, recyclable, biodegradable reagent glycerol, in a simple process that breaks down plant biomass into lignin, cellulose and chemicellulose at low temperature and pressure. The cellulose is then converted to cellulosic sugars through enzymatic hydrolysis and the lignin, hemicellulose and glycerol become valuable co-products. Cellulosic sugars are a major feedstock for green, renewable bio-based chemicals, bioplastics and biofuels, products whose markets are multi $billions and fast growing. So what are the developments in Malaysia?
Leaf have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Agensi Inovasi Malaysia a government body aimed at developing the bio-economy plus a letter of Facilitation and Collaboration with the Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation.
Leaf Development the joint development entity between Leaf and Claeris, will lead the development efforts in Malaysia in conjunction with both AIM and MBDC. Leaf Development has a mandate to develop up to five commercial-scale projects around the world and these milestone documents with the Malaysian agencies mark a significant advancement towards the development of bio-chemical production facilities that incorporate the Glycell process.
Ken Richards, Managing Director of Leaf Resources ( @) commented: Having just returned from a week in Malaysia, which included visits to potential sites and meetings with numerous government officials, I am impressed with Malaysias enthusiasm and commitment to create a high-value, bio-based industry. The proactive nature of all partie
s, government and private sector, demonstrate their commitment to make it happen. I believe that Malaysia, with its abundant biomass resources, its advantageous location within the ASEAN region, and the active commitment of both the Federal and State Governments, presents a unique combination of all the attributes necessary to be a successful site for a platform Glycell production facility. We look forward to actively pursuing this unique opportunity with the Malaysian government.
Mr. Richards continued: The contribution of our development partner, Claeris, has been significant. Their local knowledge and contacts have been critical in moving this project forward at such a rapid rate and those skills will be extremely useful as our work in Malaysia progresses. Whilst there is still much work to be done, the potential benefits of a project in Malaysia are significant for all parties. This collaboration with the Malaysian agencies represents a big leap forward on the path to commercialising the Glycell technology.
Many bio-based products can now economically replace petroleum based products. The GlycellTM process can produce cellulosic sugars at under $50 per tonne when co-products are included. This compares with $220 per tonne for sugars produced from the conversion of corn starch, the cheapest alternative and $280 per tonne for raw sugar. By dramatically reducing the cost of the main feedstock for bio based chemicals, plastics and biofuels, the GlycellTM process has the potential to change the face of global renewable production.
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