MPOB should study wider use of methane

THE Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) should study the feasibility of using renewable gas for public transport like taxis and for more heavy-duty industrial use, a senior industry executive said.

Malaysian Palm Oil Association chief executive Datuk Mamat Salleh said the palm oil industry should not limit itself to just converting methane gas into electricity for sale to Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).

"There should be more options. The MPOB (Malaysia Palm Oil Board) should also explore the possibility of compressing methane into cooking gas tanks for household use in remote areas. And if our scientists and engineers are able to come up with ways to extract a significant amount of purified methane for sale to the national gas pipeline, why not?" he said in an interview with Business Times.

Some palm oil mills in the country already have biogas plants, which trap captured methane gas from palm oil mill effluents to reduce air pollution. Methane is a more harmful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2). While a small number of mills use the captured methane to produce electricity for their own use, or for sale to TNB, most biogas plants simply burn the methane, turning it into CO2.

"We should be adding value. The current practice of methane-flaring is akin to letting money go up in smoke. That's a waste of a highly efficient fuel," Mamat said.

Currently, Peninsular Malaysia faces a gas shortage and some industry players have floated the idea of supplying methane to the national gas pipeline. However, it is unclear if the idea is viable as it will probably require a substantial amount of methane gas for it to work.

"Methane captured for sale as fuel is good for the environment, and palm oil millers get to earn some money in supplying energy, be it renewable natural gas or electricity," Mamat said.

Leave a Reply