A Malaysian company is building what it says is the world’s first plant to commercially produce ethanol from nipah palm trees.
The Associated Press reports that Pioneer Bio Industries Corp. Sdn. Bhd. is building the plant in northern Perak state to extract ethanol from the sap of the nipah tree, scientifically known as Nypa fruiticans and found in abundance in Malaysia’s coastal areas.
Company chairman Badrul Shah Mohamad Noor said the company plans to build more than a dozen additional plants over the next five years. He said the technology was developed by 16 Malaysian scientists over the last five years.
Ethanol is produced as a bio-fuel in Brazil and Europe but is sourced from other raw products such as sugar cane, cassava, corn and sugar beet.
The first plant, costing 1.4 billion ringgit ($398 million), will have a capacity to process 140 million gallons of ethanol per year. It is expected to be operational at end-2008, Badrul Shah told reporters.