Biorefinery slated for operation in 2024

Biorefinery slated for operation in 2024

Bio Base Asia Pilot Plant (BBAPP), which manages the multi-purpose biorefinery pilot plant in the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation in Rayong, is scheduled to start operation in 2024.

According to Narong Sirilertworakul, president of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the government allocated 3.4 billion baht to support the infrastructure of BBAPP, a joint venture between NSTDA and Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP), a service provider for process development, scaling up and custom manufacturing of bio-based products and processes.

The plant, now under construction, is part of the government’s strategy to drive bio-, circular and green economic development in the country.

BBAPP represents infrastructure that can strengthen Thai competitiveness in technology to process agricultural products and increase the value of farm products for use as raw materials in pharmacies, food additives, cosmetics and other bio-materials.

The plant consists of two separate pilot facilities for non-good manufacturing practices (GMP) and GMP activities.

The non-GMP facility serves industries in biochemicals, biomaterials and other relevant bioproducts.

The GMP facility focuses on food, feed, cosmetics and nutraceuticals.

The services broadly cover biomass pre-treatment, industrial biotechnology (microbial fermentation and biocatalysis), green chemistry and downstream processing operations to transform low-value biomass raw materials into a wide range of high-value bioproducts.

Mr Narong said NSTDA and the Belgium-based partner plan to share financial and technological resources to support state agencies, the private sector and academic institutes to scale up their R&D.

The pilot plant is projected to reach the commercial scale and increase market access, he said.

Thailand is a top producer and exporter of sugar cane, cassava, oil palm and other farm products, said Mr Narong.

More than 40 million tonnes a year of biomass have yet to be utilised. This gap presents ample opportunity for biorefinery technology that enables the conversion of biomass to energy, chemicals and biomaterials, which can increase the value of these crops and their by-products.

Wim Soetaert, chief executive of BBAPP, said the plant is the first pilot plant in Thailand and Asean, giving it a unique mission to develop and scale up sustainable bio-based products and processes.

He said the pilot infrastructure project aims to provide a platform for local and international private and public organisations as well as academic institutions to scale up and validate assessment.

The next stage is to facilitate market entry before investment in a production plant, said Mr Wim.

BBEPP and NSTDA signed a memorandum of understanding to establish BBAPP on Nov 12, 2019.

Established in 2018 and based in Belgium, BBEPP is a world-class service provider that has developed into a global reference for bio-based development.

From 2013 to 2020, BBEPP conducted more than 450 bilateral projects with over 150 different small, medium and large-sized companies.