The Sago Palm (Metroxylon sagu) grows well with minimum care in swamp and peat areas otherwise inhabitable for most other crops. It has a high starch yield: one palm may yield between 150 to 300 kg of starch.
Sarawak exports up to 40,000 tons sago a-year and the effluent (sago starch factory wastewater) resulting from sago debarking and processing are often discharged to nearby rivers. This inevitably contributes to river pollution. A typical sago mill consumes about 1,000 logs per day, generating a minimum of 400 tons of slurry effluent which contains about 5% solids (20 tons).
The Biochemistry Laboratory at the Faculty of Resource Science and Technology, UNIMAS under the supervision of Professor Dr Kopli Bujang has for the past couple of years been working on exploiting the potential of the sago waste solids in the slurry effluent, looking at the possible generation of biofuel.
Although the use of sago starch is a clear possibility, the production of biofuel from a food source doest not seems appropriate especially when one is looking at the rising prices of food supply around the world. The group, therefore, have put their focus on using the sago waste solids. This not only shift the reliance away from the sago starch but also minimise the effects of environmental pollution from the sago factories.
To begin with, the research group has successfully established a complete bench-plant in campus, in preparation for the pilot-plants which are currently being constructed at Kotobuki (Japan) and Malaysia under the supervision of a Malaysian private company.
The parameters are currently being set to increase the filtration efficiency of the slurry effluent to carve the possibility of harvesting the sago fibres for production of fermentable sugars in a continuous pilot-scale level. Using an in-house modified enzymatic process, initials attempts were able to extract 20-25% of fermentable sugars from sago fibres. At the conservative conversion of 20%, it is possible to produce a minimum of 4 tons/day of fermentable sugars from the slurry effluent produce in a typical sago mill.
Two units of hydrolysers and one unit of rotating vacuum pump filter for continuous filtration of the sago effluent have been developed and constructed to enable the efficient hydrolysis of sago fibres at the pilot-scale level. These will make a convenient attachment to the pilot-plant for a maximum production of biofuel and other by-products.
One of the other by-products currently investigated is the alga Spirulina culture on the filtered sago effluent. Standard parameters have been established to allow for the culture to be harvested after 10 to 20 days. The final objective is to market this product as a source of protein and organic health supplements, adding further commercial value to a potential pollutant.
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Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
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In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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