Biolubricants set to help farm products
Move a part of state's bioeconomy scheme
The Industry Ministry is keen to promote biolubricants from Thai farm products in an effort to develop the oleochemical industry, a part of the government's bioeconomy scheme.
Nattapol Rangsitpol, director-general of the Office of Industrial Economics (OIE), said biolubricants could be developed from local farm products such as palm oil, providing another solution in dealing with the huge surplus of palm oil.
Biolubricants are additives that increase the efficiency of motors and the engines of vehicles.
Palm oil in the oleochemical industry is extracted as a fatty acid, which is used in the production process for lubricants.
Other oleochemicals can be extracted from soybean oil, castor oil and linseed oil to be polyamide, widely used in the automotive and textile sectors.
Mr Nattapol forecasts the global oleochemical market's value at 750 billion baht in 2019, but this figure excludes the biodiesel segment.
The global oleochemical market is projected to reach 1.18 trillion baht by 2027, he said.
With this growth projection, global demand for palm oil will increase from 18 million to 26 million tonnes.
"Fatty acid in the oleochemical industry is the key raw material for many products, while glycerol is another extracted material from this industry," Mr Nattapol said.
Asia-Pacific is the largest oleochemical market, with the biolubricant market in the region projected to reach 125 billion baht by 2026 from 85 billion baht this year.
"Once Thailand can establish the biolubricant sector, it will add value to local palm oil in another way," Mr Nattapol said.
He said the ministry is accelerating the plan to promote provincial bio hubs in three new provinces -- Chachoengsao, Ubon Ratchathani and Lop Buri -- in addition to existing locations of the bioeconomy scheme in Khon Kaen, Nakhon Sawan and Kamphaeng Phet.
Those provinces are plantation areas for sugar cane and cassava.
The bioeconomy scheme is part of the Pracha Rat (People's State) initiative, whereby the government will promote value-added agricultural products and increase local household incomes.
Mr Nattapol said the ministry has a master plan for the bioeconomy scheme (2018-27) to promote Thai farm products and aims to be the biochemical hub of Southeast Asia by 2027.