07/09/2007 (The Star Online) - Universiti Sains Malaysia has taken yet another step towards energy efficiency. In continuing a string of co- operation with the Japan Inter-national Research Centre for Agricultural Science (JIRCAS), USM signed a research agreement for the development of utilising oil palm sap in ethanol production. of using the sap from the waste trunk of oil palms.
“This is a totally new finding,” said Dr Yutaka Mori, the director of JIRCAS's Post-Harvest Science and Technology Division.
He explained that initial re- search had indicated that sap extracted from the centre of the trunk could yield up to 70% of the sugar content found in sugar cane juice.
“This is a new phase of collabo-ration here, using one of the most important bio-mass products in Malaysia,” Dr Mori added.
JIRCAS and USM first started their partnership in 1995.
Under the current agreement, USM will receive RM419,000 in research funds.
“USM is serious about energy saving, new energy sources and alternative energy,” said Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Muhammad Idiris Saleh.
“Our mechanical engineering stu-dents have recently adopted a new kind of thinking to change an engine with a mechanism to burn fuel dif-ferently,” he said.
USM launched the nation’s first bio-diesel powered motorcycle last week.
Idris added that USM was also trying to cut down electricity con-sumption by introducing energy policies for staff.
“Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, we also have plans to install one or two roofs with sun-absorbing material to utilise solar energy,” he said.