Published on 19 Oct 2023

Scaling up an alternative to palm oil

Powdered microalgae that has been washed, dried, and treated with methanol by NTU researchers, with a vial of oil produced from microalgae on the right.

An innovation to produce an alternative to palm oil for food applications, developed by scientists at NTU Singapore will be scaled-up for commercial production through a partnership with Eves Energy, a research and development company that focusses on scaling up innovations that hold key to clean energy systems. 

The innovation developed by NTU Singapore scientists features a method that effectively produces and extracts plant-based oils from a type of common microalgae. 

As the oils produced from the microalgae are edible and have superior properties as those found in palm oil, the newly discovered method would serve as a healthier and greener alternative to palm oil. 

After the oil has been harvested by the algae, the rest of the plant, which is edible, is then converted into algae cake, a nutrient-rich food product that can be converted into supplements, as well as used in food production as seaweed. 

The collaboration will see Eves Energy set up a facility in Indonesia in 2024 to produce 1.2 million metric tons of microalgae oil and 1.2 million metric tons of algae cake within two years. In addition to being a palm oil alternative, the microalgae oil produced from this endeavour could also be a sustainable source of renewable energy. 

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