Singapore opens laboratory for developing biomass chemical technology

The Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences (ICES), a research institute which is part of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), has launched its Metabolic Engineering Research Laboratory (MERL) in Biopolis, Singapore.

"The global biorenewable chemicals market is forecast to reach a value of $6.8bn by 2015."

The new laboratory will research and develop technologies to produce high-value chemicals from agricultural waste, or biomass.

The MERL will also design and support factories that can produce the wastes cost-effectively.

By developing new technologies and knowledge, its aim is to develop new strategies and applications in the use of biomass and sustain the production of chemicals from biorenewable sources.

ICES executive director Dr Keith Carpenter was quoted by Channel NewsAsia as saying that most of the world's current chemicals and chemical-based products are derived from crude oil.

''Eco-friendly processes for the next generation of chemicals and materials are urgently required," Carpenter added.

"The possibility of creating an entirely new value chain, deriving materials and chemical products from biomass and through the integration of biological and chemical sciences, with novel techniques and know-how, is definitely an exciting prospect."

The global biorenewable chemicals market is forecast to reach a value of $6.8bn by 2015, which will offer economic opportunity for Singapore to renew its chemical industry.