By George Gill
Solution Engineering Holdings Bhd and Universiti Putra Malaysia are working together to design and build a 4 million Malaysia Ringgits (U.S. $1.1 million) pilot plant to produce bio-based oils in Puchong, Malaysia.
Construction is scheduled to start at Solution Engineering’s headquarters in the first quarter of this year, according to its managing director Barry Lim, with the pilot plant expected to become operational by 2010. The product is expected to be available in the market by 2010, Lim said. The plant will be able to produce about 700 metric tons per year, he added.
Lim noted that the target market consists of customers in Europe, Korea, Japan and the United States, because those have the most demand for bio-based oils, which are used in blending environmentally friendly biolubricants. “The feedstock for our production process is biodiesel from crude palm oil,” he told Lube Report. “Other vegetable and plant-based feedstock such as jatropha can also be used.” Jatropha is a tropical plant that is gaining attention internationally, primarily for its potential as a biodiesel fuel crop.
Researchers from partner Universiti Putra Malaysia’s department of chemical and environmental engineering, headed by Robiah Yunus, developed the technology for the pilot plant’s process. Yunus told Lube Report that the university obtained a Technofund grant of RM4.55 million ($1.3 million) in October 2007 from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation to collaborate with Solution Engineering on the pilot plant.
“This is the first project that we are collaborating on for the purpose of research and commercialization,” Solution’s Lim said. “About 30 percent of the amount will go towards purchase of analytical and test equipment, research and design fees, raw materials, marketing and product certifications, etc.”
According to its Web site, Solution Engineering specializes in design and development of teaching equipment for engineering education, such as chemical, mechanical, electrical and control engineering.