China’s eco-friendly technology aids BRI partners in transforming waste into valuable resources


China’s eco-friendly technology aids BRI partners in transforming waste into valuable resources

A view of the 1 MWe multi-generation demonstration project based on biomass gasification, built by the Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in collaboration with universities and companies from Thailand and Pakistan, in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. /GIEC

A view of the 1 MWe multi-generation demonstration project based on biomass gasification, built by the Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in collaboration with universities and companies from Thailand and Pakistan, in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. /GIEC

Southeast Asia boasts of abundant biomass resources, mainly including waste from agriculture and forestry, and China has been employing eco-friendly technologies to help its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partners in turning waste into wealth.

Liu Huacai, a researcher from Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion (GIEC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said that the energy demand in ASEAN countries has been rising dramatically due to economic development, rapid urbanization, and population growth.

Thus, promoting modern biomass energy technology in ASEAN will contribute to build a sustainable energy supply system, protect environment, and boost rural economic development, Liu added.

For example, Thailand has rich biomass resources, such as crop straw and wood residue.

The existing biomass gasification projects have faced problems like poor fuel flexibility, low gasification efficiency, high tar content in gas, and secondary pollution from tar wastewater.

It is urgent to enhance equipment reliability and operation and maintenance capabilities to ensure system stability and reduce investment and operating costs.

The GIEC, in collaboration with universities and companies from Thailand and Pakistan, built an advanced and efficient 1 MWe multi-generation demonstration project based on biomass gasification in Nakhon Phanom in Thailand.

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The facility for the production of biomass-derived biochar and activated carbon materials, developed by the Institute of Urban Environment of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Bengbu, east China's Anhui Province. /IUE

The facility for the production of biomass-derived biochar and activated carbon materials, developed by the Institute of Urban Environment of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Bengbu, east China’s Anhui Province. /IUE

The facility for the production of biomass-derived biochar and activated carbon materials, developed by the Institute of Urban Environment of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Bengbu, east China’s Anhui Province. /IUE

International cooperation network

The Institute of Urban Environment (IUE) of CAS has been cooperating with Malaysia and Indonesia to build two demonstration projects in Malaysia in 2024.

The two projects are supported by the Alliance of International Science Organizations (ANSO), an international scientific organization founded in 2018 by the CAS and 36 other international science and education institutions around the world.

They are capable of processing 10 to 20 tonnes of biomass waste on a daily basis to produce carbon-based materials.

Wang Yin, a professor of IUE, said that biomass-derived products include biochar and activated carbon materials that could be used in the purification of local drinking water, domestic sewage, and air and carbon-based fertilizers for soil amendment.

The cooperation project is expected to generate economic benefits of more than 10 million yuan (about $1.39 million), provide 300-plus jobs, and train more than 20 engineers and technicians.

The cooperation has laid a solid foundation for future exchanges between China and its BRI partners, and relevant technologies and experience will be extended to countries such as the Philippines, Brunei, and Thailand to improve local people’s well-being and mitigate climate change, said Wang.

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A view of the 10,000-tonne bio-based material demonstration project, built by the Institute of Process Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Wuqiao County, north China's Hebei Province. /IPE

A view of the 10,000-tonne bio-based material demonstration project, built by the Institute of Process Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Wuqiao County, north China’s Hebei Province. /IPE

A view of the 10,000-tonne bio-based material demonstration project, built by the Institute of Process Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Wuqiao County, north China’s Hebei Province. /IPE

Eco-friendly disposition of palm oil

In addition, Malaysia and Indonesia are two major palm oil suppliers whose production has accounted for more than 80 percent of the global total.

However, since the palm residues cannot be effectively used, they have been discarded and burned, polluting the environment.

The Institute of Process Engineering (IPE) of CAS has been working with the Malaysia Innovation Hub (MIH) in the development of bio-based plastics with palm fiber and other biomass as primary raw materials.

The IPE developed new functionalized ionic liquid modifiers to treat palm residues and built a 10,000-tonne bio-based material demonstration project in Wuqiao County, north China’s Hebei Province, where qualified bio-based material packaging products have been produced.

Xin Jiayu, a researcher from IPE, said that the technology will alleviate the environmental and hygiene challenges posed by the inappropriate disposal of palm residues.

According to Vincent Wong Wai Sang, president of MIH, the National Farmers Organization of Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates will jointly introduce technology.

The two will invest in a 30,000-tonne bio-plastics production line in Malaysia, eyeing the Middle East and European markets with environmentally friendly products as an alternative to traditional fossil-based plastics.

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(With input from Xinhua)

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