Local biofuel start-up, Green COP, is partnering with global palm oil producer, IOI to commercialise sustainable marine fuels. IOI supplies the plant-based waste feedstock, while Green COP sets up and manages the production process of the sustainable marine fuels.

 

In 2021, the global cargo shipping market was valued at a whopping USD 2.2 trillion—enabling roughly 80 to 90 per cent of global trade. However, this massive industry is also a massive contributor to the world’s carbon emissions and accounts for roughly three percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

As a key enabler of trade, the maritime industry has a rich history going back almost 5,000 years with no indication of slowing down. To continue thriving, companies in the trade must curb their dependency on fossil fuel and explore more sustainable sources.

Recognising the urgent need to mitigate emissions in shipping, Green COP, an alumnus of the NUS Graduate Research Innovation Programme (GRIP) and PIER71™, where they were one of the  top 3 winners of the Smart Port Challenge in 2022, entered the industry aiming to commercialise sustainable marine fuels and decarbonise Singapore's coastal logistics ecosystem.

In their mission to decarbonise the maritime industry, they developed patented technology that converts plant-based waste into biofuels. In 2023, through IPI, Green COP was introduced to IOI Corporation Berhad (IOI), a prominent global integrated palm oil producer, setting the stage for a win-win relationship.

“We worked with IPI prior to our introduction to IOI, where our technology was featured at an IPI-led event "Opportunities for Agrifood Side Stream Valorisation in Asia”. After understanding our needs, IPI facilitated an introduction to IOI. This introduction has been instrumental in forging our collaboration with IOI,” said Green COP Project Director, Sng Yee Ching. 

The two companies discussed the possibility of using Green COP's technology to convert empty fruit bunches (EFB), a waste product from palm oil processing, into biofuels.  Following successful discussions, Green COP and IOI began their collaboration, where the latter provided EFB and space for setting up a pre-commercial plant at one of their palm oil sites in Johor, Malaysia.

“Our decision to collaborate with IOI Corporation Berhad was based on their extensive experience in the palm oil industry and their commitment to sustainability. IOI's expertise, coupled with their access to biomass resources, made them a strategic partner for our biofuel project,” Sng shared.

Green COP will use its patented technology to turn the EFB into biofuel through a process that involves treating the EFB with special catalysts and fermenting it. This partnership reflects IOI's shared commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable development.

Green COP believes this collaboration will accelerate the commercialisation of their technology and pave the way for supplying biofuels to the maritime industry. The learnings from this project will be crucial for scaling up their operations to full-scale production facilities.

Ethan Siew, Principal Manager, Innovation & Technology remarked: "We recognised the potential of Green COP’s technology in addressing agrifood side stream challenges in Singapore and the region. To highlight this, we showcased their Method for Enhancing Lignocellulosic Biomass Side Stream Pre-treatment technology on our online innovation marketplace and at our event last year. Throughout the project, we ensured that the right stakeholders were involved and facilitated discussions to pave the way for collaboration. I am pleased to see that IOI has supported Green COP by initiating a Proof of Value plant in Kluang, which underscores the success of our efforts in fostering innovation and partnerships."

The success of this collaboration also demonstrates the value of IPI-led events as platforms for connecting industry players and fostering innovation. Upon successful completion, Green COP's biofuels are expected to contribute to Singapore's Green Plan by transforming waste into high-value products.

Reflecting on the collaboration, Sng pointed out that it is a “practical step forward in [their] sustainability efforts.”

The project also has the potential to generate significant economic benefits, with Green COP anticipating substantial revenue growth and the creation of new jobs from 2025 to 2027. 

All in all, this collaboration between Green COP and IOI, is a promising step towards a cleaner and more sustainable future for the maritime industry. Looking ahead, the Green COP team is looking to expand their current pre-commercial plant capacity to further its sustainability goals.