Potential of Nypa palm as a complementary biomass crop to oil palm in Malaysia

A.K. Hakimien, I. Alshareef, W.K. Ho, A.C. Soh
Throughout the world, there have been attempts to diversify sources of renewable energy including biomass resources. In Malaysia, the main biomass source is oil palm (94%). However, there exists a number of underutilised biomass species which could provide abundant, sustainable, ecosystem resilient and cost effective sources of biomass for renewable energy in addition to oil palm. This research aims to explore the potential of a novel biomass crop to mitigate the overdependence on oil palm as a source of biomass. Nypa palm (Nypa fruticans) is a monospecific genus palm endemic to estuaries in the South-East Asia region. In the past, the sap from this palm was traditionally harvested for beverages while leaflets was used in roofing thatching. However, these practices are slowly dwindling as local opt for higher paid jobs. Historically, alcohol from Nypa sap was used as fuel before World War II but this local industry collapsed at the arrival of the oil economy. Recent studies examining for new fuel alternatives suggested that Nypa sap has the potential to become a bioethanol feedstock. In particular, its high sugar content has been reported to have a potential ethanol yield of 8,200-15,400 L ha-1 y-1 under optimum conditions, which is higher than current yields obtained for commercial sugarcane or maize. Nypa also has potential as a lignocellulosic feedstock for conversion into multiple products, particularly for industrial (green chemicals) and medicinal purposes. Studies on genetic diversity, plantation management and cost analysis for biofuel production are lacking and needed to be carried out. This paper explores the potential of the crop to be a complementary source of biomass production to oil palm.
Hakimien, A.K., Alshareef, I., Ho, W.K. and Soh, A.C. (2016). Potential of Nypa palm as a complementary biomass crop to oil palm in Malaysia. Acta Hortic. 1128, 285-290
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1128.43
Nypa palm, plantation, sap, biofuel

Acta Horticulturae