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University of Nottingham launches research facility of centre for multidisciplinary research on palm oil


The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) recently launched Centre of Sustainable Palm Oil Research (CESPOR), which focuses on improving the various aspects of the palm oil industry. Located adjacent to Havys Oil Mill Sdn Bhd in Palong, Negeri Sembilan, the team at CESPOR comprises of researchers from the School of Biosciences, Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering and Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering.

From the prevention of Ganoderma disease, which causes the plant to decay, to improving technologies in converting palm-based biomass into biofertiliser, fibre mat, palm pellets, dried long fibre and biochar, CESPOR also champions the development of Integrated Anaerobic Aerobic Bioreactor (IAAB), a novel technology proven to improve the treatment efficiency of the otherwise highly toxic discharge known as palm oil mill effluent (POME).

“The opening of this research facility is a testimony of a multidisciplinary research from the faculties of science and engineering and reflects the many ground breaking research projects at UNMC which are both multi disciplinary and a result of cross campus exchange,” said Professor Graham Kendall, Vice Provost (Research and Knowledge Exchange) at the opening ceremony.

CESPOR has since collaborated with numerous industry players such as Eureka Synergy, Sdn Bhd, Havys Oil Mill Sdn Bhd and Green Plant Organic Fertilizer Sdn Bhd. To date, CESPOR has secured more than RM8 million in research grants from both public and private institutions, in hopes to ultimately optimise the use of palm-based biomass and POME.

“I am glad to see my research on IAAB has transformed from an initiative in the lab to become the one-tonne, and the 3000-tonne demonstration plant it is today,” said Professor Chong Mei Fong. IAAB technology has been the brainchild of Professor Chong since she saw a great potential to extract biogas from POME back in 2007, when the industry was still searching for an efficient solution to treat this waste.

According to the National Biomass Strategy (NBS) 2020, Malaysia had 83 million tonnes of dry palm biomass in 2012 at an estimated value of RM24.9 billion. This is expected to increase to approximately 100 million tonnes by 2020. By combining its know-how and capabilities, CESPOR can fully undertake projects of any size to recover and optimise Malaysia’s palm-based biomass into a viable resource.

The centre was officially launched by Professor Christine Ennew, CEO and Provost of UNMC; Professor Graham Kendall, Vice Provost (Research & Knowledge Exchange); Professor Denny K. S. Ng, Founding Director of CESPOR; Datuk Lim Kim Eng, Chairman of Havys Oil Mill Sdn Bhd; Datuk Michael Lim Lian Seng, Managing Director of Havys Oil Mill Sdn Bhd; Dr David Lim; Managing Director of Eureka Synergy Sdn Bhd; Raymond Lim Lian Hua and Datuk Francis Lim, Executive Directors of Havys Oil Mill Sdn Bhd.

“We are very pleased to work with researchers from UNMC who have the deep knowledge and expertise. We aim to develop the means to generate renewable energy and products through various strategies which will subsequently become value resources to be used by the whole nation. The implementation of more biomass and biogas projects will ultimately recover and prevent million tonnes of waste from being released into the environment,” said Datuk Michael Lim, Managing Director of Havys Oil Mill Sdn. Bhd.

“By having on-site research office equipped with state-of-the-art facilities in a palm oil mill, all the studies can be conducted in the actual environment. It also can demonstrate the applications of research in the industry,” added Professor Denny Ng, Founding Director of CESPOR.

— Ends —

(Article image caption: (from left to right) Professor Christine Ennew, Professor Graham Kendall, Professor Denny Ng and Professor Chong Mei Fong at the official launch)

(Thumbnail image caption): (from left to right) Professor Christine Ennew, Professor Graham Kendall and Professor Chong Mei Fong


More information is available from Professor Denny Ng on or Josephine Dionisappu, PR & Communications Manager on +603 8924 8746,

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for three years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future.

Posted on 11th April 2016

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