Mitsubishi, Malaysian institute launch algae production in pilot project

22, Aug. 2019

An algae cultivation facility operated by Mitsubishi Corp. and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre in Kuching, Sarawak in Borneo, Malaysia. (Photo courtesy of Chitose)
An algae cultivation facility operated by Mitsubishi Corp. and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre in Kuching, Sarawak in Borneo, Malaysia. (Photo courtesy of Chitose)

KUALA LUMPUR, NNA - Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp. and a local research institute have launched algae production in Malaysia in a pilot project aimed at making algae-using biomass production full business as a potential resource replacing fossil fuels.

Mitsubishi and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre, run by the Malaysian state of Sarawak, jointly operate the large-scale outdoor algae cultivation plant in Kuching, northern Borneo.

The 1,000-square meter plant was completed in November under the technical advice of Singapore-based, Japan-originated biotechnology firm Chitose Bio Evolution Pte. Ltd.

The plant is capable of yielding 5 to 6 tons of dried algae per year, some 20 times the productivity compared with soybeans, another biological resource, Chitose spokeswoman Yu Deguchi told NNA on Tuesday.

As the plant has succeeded in producing micro algae for shrimp cultivation, Mitsubishi, the Sarawak center and Chitose will sign a contract with a local shrimp producer to use the product during a ceremony Aug. 27.

“Through cultivation experiment in the plant, we gained good prospects for large scale and stable production needed for commercialization,” Deguchi said, adding that the scale of 100,000 square meters would be needed for commercial production.

A spokesman for Mitsubishi said, “The facility is for research and development toward commercialization,” and that they intend to continue experiments for mass production.

Mitsubishi teamed up with Sarawak Biodiversity Centre to collect and produce local algae in 2012. Chitose Bio, a firm known for its mass production technology in algae, joined the project as a technical adviser the following year. (NNA/Kyodo)