KUCHING – Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus and Biotech Alliance International Sdn Bhd recently entered into an agreement to conduct research on the rapid composting of organic wastes from oil palm processing.
The research project, costing RM745,502, will take place over a two-year period commencing February 2009.
It aims to investigate the use of specific degrading micro-organisms to accelerate the composting process of oil palm wastes.
“We are pleased to be working with Biotech Alliance on this venture. Swinburne Sarawak believes that it has the capacity to make a significant contribution to agricultural sustainability in Sarawak and elsewhere as we have the research expertise and the technology for endeavors of this kind,” says Professor Helmut Lueckenhausen, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Swinburne Sarawak.
“This project is also in line with our goal to extend Swinburne Melbourne’s status as a research intensive university to our Sarawak campus. We are currently engaged in a number of collaborative projects with local industry partners, one of which, for example, funded by the Malaysian Pepper Board, is to design and develop a solar-based drier for the efficient drying of pepper berries by our engineering researchers.”
Also to be developed under the agreement with Biotech Alliance are techniques for the augmentation of the compost product with beneficial micro-organisms.
Accelerating the rate of composting will improve the waste handling in palm oil processing and the addition of selected beneficial microorganisms will result in an improved compost product.
The compost project will be housed within Swinburne Sarawak’s recently completed science laboratories with newly acquired equipment.
The collaboration of Swinburne Sarawak with Biotech Alliance is a timely development in the university’s plan to expand its activities into science and technology, and to grow its research profile especially in collaboration with local industry.
This research project is also regarded as a positive step towards the start of the university’s biotechnology programme as its Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology begins in March this year.
The new biotechnology programme in teaching and research is the seed from which a school of science offering other science degrees will be formed to take its place with the other established schools on campus.
Research activity in other areas of biotechnology at the university has begun with PhD or MSc candidates looking into in algal biodiesel, and compounds of potential commercial interest from indigenous microorganisms, in conjunction with the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre.