Malaysia sets up Asia’s largest biorefinery site

An official from the government of Malaysia’s biotechnology investment agency BiotechCorp sent the blog an email today regarding their Malaysian ringgit (M$)170m (€42.3m, $53.3m) investment for a biorefinery complex in Kertih, in the Terengganu State, which is expected to attract foreign companies to set up shop for their cellulosic-based manufacturing facilities.

The site will reportedly be Asia’s largest biorefinery complex, which will sit on a 1,000 hectare land located at Kertih Biopolymer Park (developed by the East Coast Economic Region Development Council or ECERDC or Malaysia).

The site will also have a 30,000 hectares of land dedicated for feedstock plantations that will produce 10.5m tonnes/year of woodchips from Acacia mangium and Leucaena leucocephala — I have no idea how to pronounce this — but it is also locally known as “Petai Belalang.”

This project is a collaboration between the Terengganu State government, BiotechCorp and ECERDC. BiotechCorp is Malaysia’s biotech development agency assigned together with ECERDC to engage global industry biotechnology players especially from the US, Europe, Korea and Japan to set-up their bio-based chemical manufacturing facility in Kertih Biopolymer Park.

In fact, the agencies have already attracted a (M$)3.2bn investment from a joint venture between Korean chemical firm CJ CheilJedang (remember this company? It is also in partnership with Metabolix…) and France-based Arkema to manufacture bio-methionine and other thiochemical platform at an 80,000 tonne/year facility to be located at Kertih Biopolymer park.

For more about bio-methionine, click this link that the blog posted in January.

BiotechCorp said it is expecting  the new complex to be occupied by 8 global industrial biotechnology players by 2015.

In fact, another well-known industrial biotechnology company will announce their plans to set up shop in the complex next week at the BIO 2012 conference, according to the agency. I wonder who could that be??? I am thinking of LanzaTech given its activities in the cellulosic woodchips area as well as its familiarity in the Asian markets…

The Kertih Biopolymer Park, by the way, is also close to PETRONAS Kertih Integrated Petrochemical Complex, which, according to BiotechCorp, allows cross supply of products between both complexes, while providing economies of scale for utilities supply and logistics. 

“The complex will further create opportunities for technology and science-driven companies in the green chemical sector; which is central to the development of the bio-based economy. More significantly, it is one of the many crucial initiatives driven by BiotechCorp as a commitment to advance the bio-chemical sector and to secure a targeted RM4 billion of investment in the industrial biotechnology sector by 2013 to drive the Commercialization Phase of the National Biotechnology Policy (NBP).” – Dato’ Dr Mohd Nazlee Kamal, CEO of BiotechCorp

The agencies expect to get a total of M$6.8bn investment from foreign companies. Operation of the complex is expected to start by early 2014. The site will also use renewable energy coming from cellulosic feedstock instead of natural gas.

The total project is expected to generate a cumulative gross national income of (M$) 20.4bn by 2020 and produce 2,500 green-jobs for Malaysia.

Manufacturing facilities that will be set up on the site are expected to produce advanced carbohydrates, bio-based chemicals, bio-based materials, bio-based fertilizers and active feed ingredients using cellulosic feedstock.

Signing ceremony between BiotechCorp, ECERDC and the Terengganu State Government

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