Completion of Two Environmental Energy Projects
Waste water from the company’s Siam and Lamthap factories is now treated in covered in-ground anaerobic reactors (CIGARs) to digest the high organic content in the waste. This innovative digester technology to capture Methane biogas was designed for Univanich by Waste Solutions Ltd, an international firm of consulting engineers specialising in biogas technology.
Sam biogas engine
Methane biogas is normally a very damaging greenhouse gas but at the Siam and Lamthap factories it no longer escapes to the atmosphere but is used as a fuel. Two large biogas engines were imported from the Guascor company in Spain, each capable of generating up to 950kw electricity for supply to the provincial grid.
Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions to create a new energy source
The covered anaerobic digesters can hold up to 40,000 cubic metres of palm oil mill effluent (POME). The methane emissions are captured by heavy duty plastic sheeting and piped to the biogas power plant.
After treatment in the digesters, water is returned to the existing pond system to be used for irrigation of the company’s plantations and nurseries.
Siam Biogas Opening
On 16th February 2008, Univanich Chairman Mr Apirag Vanich officially opened the completed biogas projects. In addition to the renewable energy source, the Siam and Lamthap projects are expected to produce revenue from Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) incentive under the United Nations protocol on climate change.
Expanding Seed Exports
Germinated oil palm seeds are carefully packaged in cartons of 4,000 seeds each, for dispatch to domestic and export customers. During the past 30 years Univanich has collected and tested pedigree breeding material from research centres around the world. The company now has the most advanced oil palm breeding programme in Thailand, exporting to growers in seven countries.
Univanich germinated seeds are dispatched by airfreight from Phuket International Airport. The superior performance of this planting material, particularly in low rainfall conditions, has led to increasing export demand. New generations of hybrid crosses are being continuously tested in progeny trials, with an objective of achieving an annual seed production of 10 million seeds by 2010.
Expanding Oil Palm Research Centre
At the Univanich Oil Palm Research Centre (OPRC) the tissue culture laboratory is expanding operations with more than 60,000 cultures under management. In the picture above the company’s Tissue Culturist Jeerawan Saengsawang displays cultures which have already become embryogenic, forming shoots of the next generation of oil palm clones.
Minister in Bunch Analysis Lab
Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Dr Teera Sutabutr, together with a group of senior officials recently visited the Univanich seed production unit. Pictured above, the minister and his group visit the bunch analysis laboratory where fruit from new progenies in the company’s breeding programme is carefully analysed for bunch composition, including high oil content.
Univanich Field Day
The Deputy Governor of Krabi Province, Mr Tanwakom Kemasiri, officially opened the first Univanich national field day on 15th December 2007. In his opening speech Khun Tanwakom commented that this initiative to share the company’s research with Thailand’s oil palm farmers would encourage the efficient growth of the country’s expanding oil palm industry.
More than 1,000 oil palm growers from around southern Thailand attended the Univanich field day. Managers at five estate sites and at the OPRC presented information and answered farmer questions about planting techniques, irrigation requirements, nursery management, and about the importance of advanced oil palm breeding to achieve higher crop yields.
Installation of New Irrigation Systems
Each year Univanich installs new irrigation systems to test the latest generation of hybrid seedlings in both irrigated and non-irrigated field trials. This programme is designed to identify yield responses of different progenies under both high and low rainfall conditions.
New Employee Houses
During 2007, an additional 10 new houses were built for plantations workers and their families. Since the company’s employees are now provided with this high standard of estate housing, there has been low labour turn-over and the company has been fortunate to retain a skilled and stable workforce.
Univanich research papers presented to overseas conferences
Univanich Managing Director, Mr John Clendon, was invited to present a paper titled “A Review of 15 years of oil palm irrigation research in Southern Thailand” to the Indian National Conference on Oil Palm held in Andhra Pradesh. Since the Government of India is encouraging the expansion of oil palm cultivation there was much interest in the Univanich research carried-out in low rainfall conditions similar to those in India’s oil palm regions.
At the same conference in India, research consultant, Dr V Rao, presented a paper titled “The Univanich Oil Palm Breeding Programme and Progeny Trial Results from Thailand”. Pictured above at the conference trade booth are Ms Pritsana Kusakoon (Supervisor, Seed Exports), Dr V Rao, and Dr Palat Tittinutchanon (Plantations Controller and Head of Oil Palm Research).
International seeds marketing
The recent Price Outlook Conference in Malaysia was attended by more than 1,800 international palm oil producers and consumers. Univanich was represented at a trade booth to promote awareness of the company’s high yielding oil palm seeds, and to meet customers from around the world.
A bright light on the horizon
At Univanich, surplus methane biogas emitted naturally from the organic waste of palm oil factories, is now destroyed in a flare and no longer escapes to the atmosphere as a damaging greenhouse gas.