The world’s largest mass microalgae biomass production facility is due to open to this month in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, according to a report in the Borneo Post.

Known as Chitose Carbon Capture Central (C4), the plant would use flat-panel photo-bioreactor technology, the 28 February report said.

The Japanese government provided 2.5bn yen (US$18.8M) funding for the project, which also involved collaboration with Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC), Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) and ENEOS Corporation, Chitose Laboratory Corp executive officer and chief bioengineer Takanori Hoshino told the Borneo Post.

“This project is being funded by the Japanese government for five years until the end of fiscal year 2024 and after that, we will use the C4 for commercial production of various products from the microalgae biomass,” Hoshino was quoted as saying.

Microalgae biomass can be processed for various commercial applications such as jet fuel, plastic, paints, surfactants, truck fuel, proteins, feed and food products, as well as for pharmaceutical and cosmetics purposes.

“For example, starting from 2027, it is going to be mandatory for all airline companies globally to have a certain percentage of their jet fuels to be mixed with biofuel and there is currently not enough supply of bio-jet fuel,” Hoshino said.

Hoshino added that once bio-jet fuel – also known as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) – could be mass produced from microalgae biomass, the plan was to look into exporting the product not only to Southeast Asian countries, but also to Europe and the USA.

The plan was to expand the microalgae cultivation farm at C4 from 5ha to 100ha in three years and to 2,000ha towards 2030, he said.

Sarawak was selected as the location for the microalgae farm due its ideal year-round temperature, abundance of fresh water, and the state being safe from major natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes, Hoshino added.

“Sarawak is also strategically located to access major international markets such as Japan, Taiwan, China, and Singapore, as well as having… [a] qualified and skilled local workforce.”

SEB would be supplying exhausted gas containing carbon dioxide for the microalgae cultivation at C4, which is located next to the Sejingkat power station, while the SBC would provide qualified researchers and manpower for the project, the report said.

The opening ceremony for C4 was due to be held on 4 April with completion of the planned demonstration expected in about two years, the Borneo Post wrote.