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The Sarawak Biodiversity Centre and Mitsubishi Corporation to launch one of the largest outdoor algae cultivation facilities in Southeast Asia

The Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC), Sarawak’s leading research centre, in collaboration with Mitsubishi Corporation (MC), a global integrated business enterprise, will be setting another milestone for Southeast Asia in August of this year with the launch of one of the largest outdoor algae cultivation facilities in the region.

The SBC-MC algae cultivation facility, which is expected to yield up to 60 tonnes per hectare per year equivalent dried algal biomass, is an optimized outdoor photobioreactor system that maximizes yield and minimizes cost by growing indigenous microalgal strains adapted to Sarawak’s tropical environment in 24-m long, recyclable and economical thin plastic film, flat panel bags.


The high surface area to volume ratio, optimal gas-liquid transfer, easy operation and minimal contamination risk afforded by the flat panel bags results in improved photosynthetic activity, high biomass productivity, and lower production cost.

“Sarawak, with its abundance of sunlight and freshwater and a stable temperature throughout the year, has long been considered an ideal environment for maximizing outdoor cultivation of microalgae for production of commercial products, including cosmetics, fine chemicals, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, biofuels, fertilizers, food and feedstocks,” said Dr Yeo Tiong Chia, SBC’s Chief Executive Officer. “The high yields and cost efficiencies provided by our new facility represent a unique competitive advantage. The SBC-Mitsubishi research team together with the consultative support from Chitose Group successfully designed and developed the Algae Cultivation Facility with a Photo-Bio Reactor (PBR) system using recyclable and economic thin plastic film bag which enabled outdoor cultivation to harness the maximum sun light at an economical cost. Secondly, Sarawak’s indigenous microalgae strains can be quite robust despite temperamental climate changes because it is adapted to the local climate. The combined cost efficiency and high yield traits give our facility a competitive advantage with optimized production,” said Dr Yeo Tiong Chia, SBC’s Chief Executive Officer.

The SBC-MC algae cultivation facility represents the culmination of a collaboration between the two organizations initiated in 2012 with the aim to identify useful microalgae indigenous to Sarawak for biomass, feedstock, biofuel, food, or health supplement production. The facility, which was designed in collaboration with Japan-based Chitose Group and built at a cost of RM1.5 million (approx. USD360,000), was completed in November 2018.

“With the renewable energy thrust for algae as a source of biofuels continuing to gain traction globally, the high lipid and carotenoid yields observed in Sarawak’s indigenous microalgae strains represent a great potential,” said Yeo.

“It is a great pleasure that our efforts in the collaboration research bear fruit in the form of new ground-breaking facility. Hoping it would contribute to the creation of bio-industry in Sarawak state,” said Mr. Genichi Ichikawa, General Manager, Kuala Lumpur Branch, Mitsubishi Corporation.

The SBC-MC algae cultivation facility is located in the heart of Sarawak’s research valley in Semenggoh. The launch will be presided by the Right Honourable Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Tun Abang Haji Openg and attended by senior officials from the Malaysian government, Mitsubishi Corporation, Chitose Group and other corporate guests.

An exhibition on microalgae featuring compelling displays, commercial applications and future aspirations will be held concurrently with more than 300 guests expected to attend.

For further information on the Algae Cultivation Facility launch and corporate partner interest, please contact Ms Hii Mei Mei / Ms Constance Vanessa Victor at 082-610610 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


For more information, please contact us via the following details:

KM20, Jalan Borneo Heights, Semengoh, 93250 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

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