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Pilot Scale Carbon Dioxide Extraction system bound for Biotechnology Centre @ Curtin Sarawak

Miri – 6 January 2017 - A team from the Sarawak Ministry of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development and Trade Investment (MIETI) and Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) recently conducted a Factory Acceptance Test of a Pilot Scale Carbon Dioxide Extraction system built under a RM4.2 million contract as part of the phytoprocess train at the soon-to-be-completed Biotechnology Centre @ Curtin Sarawak (BC@CS) here.

At the workshop of the manufacturer in Ternitz, some 80 kilometres from Vienna, Austria, the system which is built by Natex Prozesstechnologie GesmbH met the test challenge of extracting oleoresin and oil from Sarawak black pepper.

Professor Clem Kuek, Dean of Research & Development at Curtin Sarawak and Director of the Curtin Sarawak Research Institute, who was a member of the team commented that oleoresin and oil from pepper is a valuable food ingredient with worldwide demand. Its extraction via liquid carbon dioxide under extreme pressures avoids the objectionable presence of residual chemicals from the alternative solvent extraction method.

“Thus, carbon dioxide extraction provides for a safe and clean end-product for the food industry,” he said.

“The carbon dioxide extraction process works on the basis of the gas being rendered at liquid at extreme pressures”, explained Freddie Panau of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Curtin Sarawak’s Faculty of Engineering and Science, and another member of the team to Austria.

“Liquid carbon dioxide is contacted with the raw material from which the useful compound is to be extracted, and at the end of the process, the carbon dioxide is allowed to evaporate thus depositing the extracted compound for collection”.

Panau added that the carbon dioxide is not wasted as it is recycled and compressed back into liquid to be used again for subsequent extractions.

The Pilot Scale Carbon Dioxide Extraction system which will be operational in the second quarter of 2017 at the BC@CS is one of only a handful of such systems in the country and will be the only one in East Malaysia.

It will be used to support the development of products from Sarawak’s natural resources of which black pepper is of prime interest. The extraction of other high-value products such essential oils for perfumery and ingredients for nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals are targetted to be studied at the BC@CS.

A short video of the Factory Acceptance Test at Ternitz, Austria can be viewed at:

For more information on Curtin Sarawak, visit its website at, its Facebook page (CurtinUniversitySarawakMalaysia), Twitter profile (curtinsarawak), YouTube channel (CurtinUniSarawak), or Instagram (curtinsarawak).

Factory Acceptance Test team in front of the BC@CS Carbon Dioxide Extraction System at Ternitz, Austria: (L-R) Mr S.M. Sim (MEITI), Prof. C. Kuek (Curtin), Mr. T.L. Lim (Kawan Engineering), Prof. Thomas Chung (MEITI Consultant), Mr. A. Trukses (NATEX), Ms. M. Ong (EPC Synergy), Mr. F. Panua (Curtin), Dr M. Sova (NATEX).