EECi & Belgium to Launch Leading Modern “Biorefinery” of ASEAN

Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (EECi) is going to establish the most modernized prototype biorefinery of ASEAN under cooperation of a world leading Belgian company specialized in the industry. The factory will hopefully be opened around March or April, 2021 and will produce bioenergy which serves as a precursor for various biochemical substances and bioplastics. Such production enables Thailand’s bio-industrial development to serve the needs of different industrial sectors of the country, thus upgrading it to become a leader in bio-industry in the future.

The Executive Vice President of National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and the Director of EECi Janekrishna Kanatharana, Ph.D., talked about the progress of the EECi project. He stated that it could become a leading innovative ecosystem of the ASEAN region whose researches and innovations create sustainable economic improvement and good living quality among Thai people. There are 5 missions for the project: 1. Serving as a center where researches are extended to commercial areas and developed from foreign technology, 2. Serving as a center for development of human resources and advanced professional skills, 3. Serving as a hub for services of industrial enhancement by technology, 4. Promoting new business start-up and creation and 5. Promoting local community development in neighboring areas.

Covering a total of 3,454 Rai land of Wang Chan Valley in Rayong, the EECi saw 45% of completed construction. The rest will be finished at the end of this year before interior decoration. The first phase of the EECi, to start in June, 2021, will consist of the prototype biorefinery factory as the major project. The factory resembles a place where natural gas and petroleum are used as a raw material for fuel and petrochemical production for plastic pellets which are fundamental of industrial sectors.

The biorefinery factory will instead use agricultural products and leftovers to produce bioenergy as a precursor for biochemical substances and bioplastics, both of which will be used by industrial sectors to replace petroleum-based chemical substances. The latter is currently being used less thanks to the global environmental awareness and increasing concerns with biological products. As a result, Thailand’s industrial sectors are abruptly upgraded and imported petroleum-based raw materials to the country are cheap since they can be produced locally. The biorefinery project, likewise, enables Thailand to invent new biochemical substances which serve the needs of local industries, hence allowing the country to become an industrial leader in the future.

There are 2 types of biorefinery factories: the Non GMP and the GMP ones. The former will produce biochemical substances not involved with any food and human body parts like various bioplastics whereas the latter will produce some extracts for humans, herbal extracts, active ingredients in medicine and cosmetics. The products will add more value to Thai agricultural products. The 2 factories will be the most modernized in ASEAN, where, at present, only Malaysia reportedly has its own. While the Malaysian one focuses on palm products, the Thai one will cover all agricultural products.

In the past, Thailand’s industries had to import biochemical products from overseas in high prices. Most of them did not correspond to the local needs as raw materials here differ from other countries’. In case Thailand has its own biorefinery factory, local agricultural products can be researched and transformed into bio-extracts that serve local needs. The products, originated from local raw materials and Thai people’s intellect, will distinguish Thailand from other countries. Also, it will mark unprecedented local technology whose more high value products are exported worldwide.