Activities Organized



Starch: Structure-Property Relationships

Dr. Sushil Dhital (Monash University, Australia)2 January


Starch, the major storage polysaccharide of cereal grains and tubers, exists from tiny (less than 2 microns, e.g., rice) to large granules (greater than 120 microns, e.g., potato). Although starch is a polymer of glucose in the form of amylose and amylopectin, its fine structure, as well as the higher level of semicrystalline packing, make it one of the most complicated bio-polymer in the biological system. The presentation focuses on the structure and packing of starch from the nm to mm scale as well as elucidates how the structure is related to the physical and nutritional properties of the starch.



NANOTEC-Monash Malaysia Bilateral Research Seminar

Researchers from The National
Nanotechnology Center (NANOTEC)
3 December


NANOTEC is an internationally recognized nanotechnology institute conducting R & D, which has a major impact on the development of the economy and society in the country. It is also the key research funding agency that provides support to universities and other research institutes in the fields of nanomedicine, nanocomposite, nanocoating, and nanoelectronics. It has established strong networks and collaboration both with domestic and international leading nanotechnology centers around the world. Research background are Herbal & Nanomedicine, Environmental Technology & Functional Materials and Energy & Catalysis


Computer Simulation of Materials. Why Bother?

Professor Mark Wilson
(University of Oxford, England)
25 September


Computer simulation is routinely employed across a wide range of disciplines. In the sciences (notably in chemistry, biochemistry, materials science and physics) models are often developed to aid the understanding of key physical properties. In all cases, links to state-of-the-art experimental investigations are key if these methods are to be fully exploited. In this presentation, the links between experiments and computer models will be discussed. The symbiotic nature of the computational and experimental investigations will be highlighted.


Early Detection of Sepsis for ICU Patients &

Wearable Technology: Signal Recovery of ECG from Short Spaced Leads in the Far-field using Discrete Wavelet Transform Based Techniques

Dr. Pardis Biglarbeigi & Ms Niamh McCallan
(Ulster University, Northern Ireland)
13 September


(I) Early Detection of Sepsis for ICU Patients

Sepsis is a noted cause of mortality in hospitalised patients, particularly patients in the ICU. Early prediction of sepsis facilitates a better targeted therapy which in turn reduces patient mortality rates. This study developed a methodology to allow automatic prediction of sepsis 6 hours prior to its clinical presentation. For this purpose, four vital signs comprising of HR, SBP, Temperature and respiratory rate, along with laboratory results for Platelets, WBC, Glucose and Creatinine are scored using PRESEP and SOFA Early Warning Scoring (EWS) systems or screening tools and SIRS criteria to allow under-sampling. The weighted scores obtained from the screening tools are also used to categorise the patients into 4 groups with different probabilities of facing sepsis in ICU. The hourly data of each group is then trained through a KNN classifier to detect sepsis hours. The ensemble of classifiers are used to predict sepsis in all available data-set. The evaluation of this model shows that the proposed algorithm can predict 96% of septic patients 6 hours before its clinical diagnosis. The Utility Score, accuracy, AUROC and AUPRC of the model are 0.84, 0.99, 0.98 and 0.66 respectively.

(II) Wearable Technology: Signal Recovery of ECG from Short Spaced Leads in the Far-field using Discrete Wavelet Transform Based Techniques

Bipolar ECG leads recorded from closely spaced electrodes are challenging in any context. When they are positioned distally with respect to the source field (far-field), the recovery of clinically useful signal content represents an even greater challenge. Due to the increased interest in ambulatory wellness devices, particularly wrist-worn devices, there is a renewed interest in recovering ECG signals from distally located bipolar leads. In this study 10 bipolar leads were simultaneously recorded at various locations along the left arm. At the same time, a conventional proximal reading on the chest using Lead I was also recorded and stored. This process was repeated for 11 healthy subjects. ECGs were recorded for a period of approximately 6 minutes for each subject and sampled at a frequency of 2048 Hz. Wavelet-based filtering using Daubechies 4 wavelet decomposition and soft threshold was applied to each lead. QRS detection performance was assessed against Lead I for each subject. This investigation found that a lead positioned transversally (using BIS gelled electrodes) on the upper arm provided the best accuracy against the benchmark QRS detection (SEN = 0.998, PPV = 0.984). The most distally positioned bipolar lead using dry electrodes faired least favourable (SEN = 0.272, PPV = 0.202).

SeminarColloidal Particles at Interfaces & From Curved Polycyclic Aromatics to Electronic MaterialsProfessor To Ngai &
Professor Qian Miao
(The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
29 August


(I) Colloidal Particles at Interfaces

Particles at interfaces has encountered in many industrial products and processes such as crude oil recovery, antifoam formulations, and mining flotation. Therefore, the study of particles trapped at liquid-liquid or gas-liquid interfaces has been long time as an important topic in colloidal and interfacial science. In this talk, Professor To Ngai will focus on their recent works that involve studying the behavior of colloidal particles residing at oil-water or air-water interfaces. He will demonstrate that new materials such as colloidal capsules with shells that are impermeable and enable the long-term encapsulation of small hydrophilic molecules can be fabricated using particles at the interface as template. The fabricated colloidal capsules can be used to encapsulate of lipase and show outstanding catalytic performance in biphasic reactions.

(II) From Curved Polycyclic Aromatics to Electronic Materials

Curved polycyclic arenes are not only unique objects of structural organic chemistry in relation to the nature of aromaticity, but also play an important role in science of carbon nanomaterials and organic functional materials.Professor Qian Miao will present the synthesis and applications of three types of curved polycyclic aromatics that were designed by his research group. The first type is negatively curved polycyclic arenes containing seven- or eight-membered rings They are not only segments but also synthetic precursors for theoretical carbon allotropes of negative curvature, which are known as Mackay crystals or carbon Schwarzites. The second type is carbon nanobelts that represent sidewall segments of armchair and chiral single-wall carbon nanotubes. The recently achieved synthesis of these carbon nanobelts is a key step towards ultimate bottom-up synthesis of uniform carbon nanotubes of single chirality and predefined diameter. The third type is organic semiconductors based on twisted hexabenzoperylenes (HBPs). Functionalized HBPs present an unusual type of π-stacking that allows a variety of functional groups to be grafted onto organic semiconductors without sacrificing π-π interactions in the solid state. This unprecedented supramolecular platform, in a device integrating an organic field effect transistor channel and a microfluidic channel, has enabled electronic sensors for highly sensitive and selective detection of chemical and biological species.

SeminarAEP Seminar: How to Write a Research Journal
Article - Tips and General Advice
Professor Michael
K.C. Tam
(University of Waterloo, Canada)
21 May


Writing and publishing research papers to disseminate new results and findings is an important task for researchers and professors. In today’s era of university ranking, citation and impact factor of journals are becoming more relevant as our performance in the university is judged by these indicators. Hence, there is enormous pressure on young faculty to submit their research papers to journals with high impact factor, and this is when these enthusiastic faculty encounter road blocks and obstacles.

In this talk, Professor Michael Tam will discuss some of the pertinent issues on writing and publishing research papers. Topics such as: (a) why it is important to publish in high impact factor journals?; (b) deciding on which journal to publish; (c) peer review process; (d) major reasons for rejection of papers; (e) general plans in preparing a research paper and many more related topics. He will share his experience from both end of the spectrum: as an author, reviewer and associate editor of an ACS journal. He hopes this talk will promote discussion that will help all to be more successful in publishing good work in the right journals, and with impact factor that is correlated to the quality of our research output.

WorkshopStability and serviceability of slopes and deep excavations: Insight on the influence
of man-made activities and the environment
Professor Carlos Carranza-Torres (University of Minnesota, USA)1 - 2 July


Stability and serviceability of slopes and deep excavations are amongst the key consideration for an engineer involved in the infrastructure development projects with construction activities both on-surface and underground. A thorough understanding of the basics in soil slopes is perhaps crucial, particularly in analysing numerous outputs an engineer generates using commercial packages or software.

This two day’s event aims to provide one such platform to the engineering students and practicing engineers to interact with the well-recognized academics and experienced engineers working in the field of soil and rock slopes as applied to excavation and stabilisation, including slopes and underground tunnels.

PresentationAEP's S2L Project/Prototype PresentationS2L Researchers5 April


Advanced Engineering Platform (AEP)'s Sustainable and SMART Living Lab (S2L) Project/Prototype Presentation - 19 projects



Development of microbial cell factories for consolidated bioprocessing by synthetic bioengineering platform & Microalgae as a platform for biofuels production and circular economy

Professor Akihiko Kondo (Kobe University and RIKEN, Japan) & Professor Jo-Shu Chang (National Cheng Kung University - NCKU, Taiwan)5 December


(I) Development of microbial cell factories for consolidated bioprocessing by synthetic bioengineering platform

Consolidated bioprocessing (CBP), which integrates enzyme production, saccharification and fermentation into a single process, is a promising strategy for sustainable biorefinery and effective production of biofuels and bio-based chemicals from non-food biomass. One of the key technologies to develop microbial cell factories for CBP is cell surface engineering, which is a powerful tool to express enzymes on the cell surface without loss of their activities. We have developed various cell surface display systems in yeast, bacteria and fungus, which were used in the direct fermentation of biomass. To construct artificial metabolic pathway, we have developed a novel synthetic biology platform to employ a combination of computer simulation and metabolic analysis to design novel metabolic pathways suitable for target chemicals production. To efficiently re-write genome and construct cell factories, we have also developed the platform technologies such as genome editing and a large gene cluster synthesis systems and are going to integrate to setup of the automated systems for efficient construction of microbial cell factories. By tethering the DNA deaminase activity to nuclease-deficient CRISPR/Cas9 system, a genome editing tool that enables targeted point mutagenesis has been developed (termed Target-AID). In addition, an efficient DNA assembly method, namely, Ordered Gene Assembly in B. subtilis (OGAB) method has been developed. OGAB method can assemble more than 50 DNA fragments to construct up to 100-kb DNA in one-step using B. subtilis. We have developed the automated DNA synthesis platform. Combination of a cell surface displayed enzyme and an intracellular metabolic engineering is a very effective approach to develop cells with novel fermentation ability for industrial applications.

(II) Microalgae as a platform for biofuels production and circular economy

Mitigation of CO2 emissions with the most efficient CO2-fixation organisms on earth, microalgae, has been one of the hottest topics in carbon capture, sequestration, and utilisation (CCS&U). Photoautotrophic cultivation of microalgae is considered the most promising platform for CO2 capture and re-utilization as the microalgal biomass converted from bio-fixation of CO2 can be used as feed-stock/raw materials for biofuel and bio-based chemicals production. To facilitate the commercialisation of microalgae-based industry, we have been developing breakthrough technologies to improve and integrate the currently available technologies and make them more feasible for practical applications. The major research directions include (1) developing large scale outdoor microalgae cultivation systems using industrial flue gas and employing different operation strategies to further improve the CO2 fixation efficiency; (2) developing effective methods for the production of microalgae-based biofuels and high-value products; (3) developing microalgae-based aquaculture feed for shrimp cultivation; (4) utilisation of the residual algal cells or byproducts (e.g., glycerol) to produce value-added products to realise the circular economy concept; and (5) developing microalgae-based wastewaters treatment technology as a waste valorization option. Our recent research progress will be presented, and the challenges encountered during the development of such technologies will also be discussed.

SeminarA natural green energy treasure house in China: The Yalong River BasinDr Wang Xu
(China Institute of Water Resources and Hydro-power Research - IWHR)
16 November


The Yalong River Basin, with its abundant water and huge water head difference is a natural green energy treasure house in China. A total of 22 hydro-power stations have been planned for the main stream and the total installed capacity is about 1.3 times that of the Three Gorges Hydro-power Station. It has the Jinping-I Hydro-power Station with the world's highest arch dam, the Jinping-II Hydro-power Station with the world's largest hydraulic tunnel group and the historic Ertan Hydro-power Station as well. At the same time, they are planning to build more than 30 million kilowatts of new energy projects (wind, light and etc), which is equivalent to rebuilding the Yalong River. The mysterious Chinese Jinping Underground Laboratory, the quaint Tibetan and Miao culture and the famous Kangding love songs are also from this area. The report will share the wonderful aspects of the Yalong River Basin such as its overview, city and culture, energy planning and development status, actual hydro power operation and scientific research progress. The second half of the talk will be on the latest development in trying to develop engineering solutions in balancing hydro-power generation, water resources utilisation and ecology needs.

SeminarEndocytic movement of membrane: Studies of both model and actual cell membranesProfessor Masahiro Takagi
(Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology)
29 October


The cell membrane is constituted with many kinds of phospholipid molecules. It has been suggested that there is a domain structure called “lipid raft” in membrane. Rafts contain high concentration of sphingolipids and cholesterol. Rafts concentrate receptor proteins and their behaviours are related to intracellular signaling. However, the mechanism of raft dynamics in cellular signaling is still unknown. In my talk, I will show two case studies related to the neurotoxicity of amyloid and drug delivery system using cell-sized liposome and cultured cells. In the first case, I will discuss the relationship between lipid raft and neurotoxicity of amyloid beta, which is a peptide responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Misfolding and accumulation of the peptide can lead to neural cell apoptosis through endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress.

They have speculated that the endocytic transport of amyloid beta causes ER stress. We have identified the important factors affecting endocytic transport, such as oxysterols, glycosyl chains of membranes, and the nano-structures (oligomers and protofibrils) of amyloid beta. In the second case, I will discuss the drug delivery system involving nanoemulsions of retinol palmitate (vitamin A). By using artificial and actual cell membrane models, we showed that the vesicles with the adsorbed nanoemulsions were formed from the plasma membrane as real endocytosis, and the vesicles were transported to the area around the nucleus. Consequently, it is likely that the nanoemulsions entered the cell by membrane-mediated transport at raft region, delivering vitamin to the cell nucleus effectively and enhancing the effects of vitamins. These findings reveal that the endocytic movements (in particular raft-dependent endocytic movements) are very important for signal transduction.

SeminarPreparation of dye affinity nanofiber membrane:
Its development and application to high efficiency
protein purification technology
Dr Jung-Chin Tsai and Professor Yu-Kaung Chang
(Ming Chi University of Technology)
12 October


Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) nanofiber membrane prepared by electrospinning holds great potential as an affinity membrane for protein purification. The dye affinity nanofiber membrane was prepared by treating ion exchange membrane (namely P-COOH), which was then chemically grafted with chitosan molecule. The obtained P-Chitosan membrane (namely P-CS) was then covalently immobilised with Procion orange MX-2R dye to be used as a dye affinity membrane. The dyed membrane was evaluated in terms of binding capacity of a model protein, lysozyme, under various operating parameters (e.g., adsorption pH, chitosan and dye concentrations, salt concentration and composition) in batch mode. The results showed that the binding capacity of the dyed nanofiber membrane for lysozyme was higher as compared to the conventional dyed membrane. The optimal conditions obtained from the batch mode were employed to develop the purification process of lysozyme from chicken egg white by newly designed membrane bioreactor. The results showed that the selectivity of dyed membrane for lysozyme was much higher than that for contaminating protein. The recovery yield and purification factor of lysozyme were 98.90% and 56.89, respectively.

PresentationDevelopment of next-generation platforms for the production of
biotherapeutics and animal vaccines in E. coli
Professor Colin Robinson
(University of Kent.)
28 May


A third of currently-licensed biotherapeutics are produced in E. coli as part of a $180 billion p.a. worldwide industry. E. coli offers the prospect of rapid growth and relatively simple downstream processing, but current platforms suffer from a set of severe limitations. As a result, E. coli is used primarily for the production of relatively simple molecules. We have developed an entirely novel set of E. coli platforms based on the Tat protein export system; this system exports complex, fully folded proteins to the periplasm and is able to transport tightly- folded proteins - even assembled disulphide bonded proteins - that the traditionally-used Sec system cannot handle. Moreover, the Tat system possesses a fascinating inbuilt 'proofreading' activity that ensures that only correctly folded molecules reach the periplasm. In this seminar I will discuss recent progress in this area and the development of 'TatExpress' strains that have enhanced translocation activity. I will also describe how we are using E. coli and mammalian cell platforms to produce biotherapeutics and animal vaccines as part of an international network that includes groups in Thailand and elsewhere in South East Asia. This work is funded by the UK Government's recently-announced £1.5 billion 'Global Challenges Research Fund' programme (

 Rapid recovery of enzyme from highly turbid feedstock using
stirred fluidized bed technique
Professor Yu-Kaung Chang
(Ming Chi University of Technology, Taiwan)
25 April


Downstream processing is now playing an increasingly important role in the biological industry, especially since the advent of recombinant DNA technology. Expanded and/or fluidized bed adsorption (EBA) chromatography has been considered as a novel downstream processing technique. For the first generation STREAMLINE EBA ion exchange adsorbent (GE Healthcare) developed for use in EBA processes, the binding capacity for proteins was very sensitive to the high ionic strength of feedstock, especially anion exchange adsorbents. Additionally, their low density would cause the adsorbent particles more difficult to operate in a highly viscous feedstock. These limitations would result in a longer purification process and lower productivity. To improve the adsorption efficiency of the adsorbents for use in an EBA process, dilution of highly viscous feedstock may be required to decrease the viscosity for achieving a stable expended bed when operated at high flow rates. Simultaneously, dilution of highly conductive feedstock would reduce the effect of ionic strength on the adsorption performance by using ion exchange adsorbents.

The second generation mixed mode STREAMLINE Direct HST adsorbent (GE Healthcare) was employed to investigate the adsorption characteristics of lysozyme in complex chicken egg white (CEW). The effects of operating parameters including adsorption pH, ionic strength, and hydrophobicity of liquids on binding capacity were experimentally examined using a well-mixed contactor. To determine the elution strategy, the experiments were carried out in a small packed bed. The lysozyme was completely eluted by 0.5 M NaCl in 40 mM carbonate buffer (pH 12) at a high liquid velocity of 200 cm/h. The effect of rotating speed on fluidization characteristics was further investigated using a stirred fluidized bed process. Smoother fluidization was observed when the rotating speed reached 200 rpm and lysozyme was directly recovered from highly viscous CEW in a single step with a high yield of 94.3% and a purification factor of 15.7.

SeminarAge of Giant Batteries: Energy Storage for Renewable Energy IntegrationDr Joey D. Ocon (University of the Philippines Diliman)27 February


Energy storage technologies, particularly batteries, have helped usher the modern world due to its indispensability in portable electronics and electric mobility. They are poised to disrupt the way future electricity grids are operated and how renewable energy sources are integrated.

In this talk, Dr Ocon will briefly describe the different energy storage technologies and its applications and technological maturity levels, especially the grid-forming storage technologies. The emerging debate between electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles will be examined. The recent progress in the development of different battery chemistries and how the prices of storage technologies could evolve in the future will be discussed as well.

In the context of providing clean, reliable, and sustainable electricity in small islands in the Philippines, the RE-based hybridization could offer the solution. Additionally, Dr Ocon will also discuss their vertically integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to doing energy storage research at different scales.

ConferenceResources for the Future (BMBF Travelling Conference - Malaysia)Prof. Dr. Jennifer Strunk (Leibniz Institute for Catalysis - LIKAT)5 & 6 February


The main goal of the conferences is focused on the development of multilateral cooperation to tackle on the challenges associated with providing clean and renewable resources for future generations. The two topics targeted by the conferences, which are (i) the provision of clean air and water (“Air/Water”), and (ii) the use of renewable/solar energy to generate industrial resources from CO2 and H2O (“CO2/H2O”), are closely linked to each other by their high societal impact and economic relevance for sustainable growth. Additionally, both challenges in the topics can be addressed by developing novel and innovative industrial processes using sunlight as energy source [i.e. photocatalytic and (photo) electrochemical processes].

The invited speakers for the conferences have great expertise in the fields of photocatalytic and (photo)electrochemical water splitting for the generation of hydrogen as industrial feedstock and renewable energy resource; the reduction of CO2 to platform chemicals such as methane, CO or ethylene; the photocatalytic treatment of wastewater polluted with pesticides, pharmaceuticals or textile dyes; and the removal of NOx, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other contaminants from indoor and outdoor air.

Another important aspect that will be covered in the conferences is the synthesis and commercialisation of suitable advanced material solutions for the processes listed above, and for the fabrication of self-cleaning and/or self-disinfecting surfaces. The talks that will be presented in the conferences cover the whole range from fundamental research to application and commercialisation of novel and innovative technologies. Both the topics “Air/Water” and “CO2/H2O” are covered in all of the conferences in the series.


SeminarEngineering bioresponsive materials for
drug delivery and sensing
Dr Rona Chandrawati
(The University of Sydney, Australia)
17 November


This talk will highlight the recent development in engineering biomaterials (layer-by-layer assembled polymer capsules, electrospun fibers, and liposomes) with the tools of EPT rendering local and controlled production of a range of therapeutics, including signaling molecules and anti-proliferative drugs, in response to enzymatic activities. The enzymatic approach increases flexibility in dose, duration, and location of delivered therapeutic agents, with the activity of the enzyme sustained over at least 7 weeks. This talk will also provide an overview on the research in liposome biosensors. Liposomes, supramolecular assemblies of lipids, offer advantageous physical and chemical properties as biosensors; they have a large internal cavity for encapsulation of signal markers and a high surface area for conjugation of recognition elements that allows for the detection of a wide variety of biomolecular analytes. An assay had been developed recently for the selective and sensitive detection of influenza biomarkers (miRNA) at subnanomolar concentrations via lipid membrane fusion mechanism. By tuning the recognition elements, this platform may be used for sensing chemical and biological targets, including other miRNA markers, proteins, drugs, and metal ions.

ColloquiumAdvanced Engineering Colloquium: Innovating
and Engineering for a Sustainable Future
-27-28 November


AEC 2019 is targeted to attract researchers, academics and industrialists, providing a platform for them to disseminate and share their findings, synergize their ideas across the disciplines and to solve the challenges in the engineering field. This colloquium will also host experts for keynote speeches along with an interactive forum session to promote innovation partaking to all the engineering disciplines.

WorkshopData Scientist in Wolfram MathematicaMr Desmond Lim
(OEMS Inti Pakar
Corporation Sdn Bhd)
30 October


A free Wolfram seminar & workshop on how DATA SCIENTIST could easily benefit with Wolfram technology - Mathematica for those who are working with data to find out how they could use Mathematica to easily load and clean real-world data, compute and deploy their data computation with fully interactive models using a combination of powerful computation, statistics and optimization, instant interactivity, and built-in data.

SeminarIntroduction to oleochemicalsMr KS Qua
Institution of Chemical Engineers
18 September


This talk is intended to help the beginners to navigate the seemingly complex world of Oleochemicals and its processes. It begins with Oleochemistry and shows how the understanding of that, will pave the way for the knowledge of Oleochemicals processes. After all, chemical engineers are the interface between molecular sciences and engineering. Inevitably ‘fatty acids’ creep in and participants will be shown how closely their lives are interwoven with fatty acids. They may be surprised at the many products they use contain one or more Oleochemicals. Some new trends will be explored and these include bio-processing. The talk will end with some insight into the Oleochemical market where some sectors are hard hit by the drop in the price of fuel oil and the advent of biodiesel

SeminarTalks on sustainability:
Why should engineers be concerned with
Climate Change? & The South-North Water
Transfer Project, China
Professor Dawei Han (Bristol University, UK)
Professor Lei Xiaohui
(China Institute of Water Resources and
Hydropower Research Beijing, China)
14 August


(1) Why should engineers be concerned with Climate Change?

In this talk, Professor Han will share with colleagues his views on why should engineers be concerned with climate change. In this talk, Professor Han will be discussing on the latest concerns in climate change, howtheParisagreement is affecting the global and engineering community, and how should current graduates from top universities prepare themselves to embrace climate change in their career.

(2) The South-North Water Transfer Project, China

Since the Middle Route project directly transfer water to Beijing, it is often regarded as the most important route. The main canal is 1432 kilometer long, and the total hydraulics head is less than 100 meter. Besides, enormous hydraulic structures are distributed along the canal, including 64 check gates, 97 diversion gates, 54 drainage gates etc.

PresentationUse of remote sensing data for flood
management in Australia
Associate Professor Valentijn
Pauwels (Monash University Australia)
13 July


This presentation focuses on a number of projects focusing on improving water management in Australia, with a focus on floods.  A first project deals with the improvement of flood forecasting systems.  As urban areas are embedded in large river basins, for which high-quality model input and validation data are scarce, remotely sensed soil moisture data are used to improve the performance of a rainfall-runoff model.  Furthermore, the inversion of satellite data into flood water levels and extents is discussed, and an overview of the use of these data to improve hydraulic model forecasts is presented.  A second project focuses on the use of observed discharge and remotely sensed soil moisture data to invert precipitation data and their uncertainty.  A final project focuses on the merging of remotely sensed gravity data with the commonly used AWRA-L model in Australia, to increase the lead time of flood and drought forecasts.

SeminarA more efficient oil extraction methodProfessor Dr Robiah Yunus
(Universiti PutraMalaysia)
10 July


Oil palm milling extraction methods have not changed since the pioneering work of United Plantation’s Tan Sri Bek-Nielsen who was inspired by Unilever’s work at Mongana in the Belgian Congo in the early 50’s. The traditional method of first digesting and continuously pressing thereafter by a single or double mechanical screw press has survived in the realm of prices versus robustness and reliability, but inherent limitations in the method are a major cause of both Palm Kernel Oil (PKO) and Crude Palm Oil (CPO) losses.

A more efficient method prescribes the decoupling of the traditional digester combination and a reassembly of specific apparatus engineered to optimise the critical steps linked to efficient separation of oil from cellulosic matter. At the second stage pressing, up to 95 percent of the oil is removed by a novel vertical axis single helical spiral screw press by forcing the mesocarp fibre through 3 separate compression zones. Induced maceration, removing kernel nuts before pressing, the introduction of an intermediate hydration process between a second and third stage pressing eliminate kernel oil loss and significantly reduces crude oil loss from pressed fibre.

SeminarChallenges in biodiesel business
– Malaysia
Mr UR Unnithan
(SUMWIN Group)
10 April


The biodiesel industry worldwide faces a number of challenges. The key challenges are economic parity with gas oil, tariff & non-tariff barriers, as well as technical issues moving beyond B7 and the lack of consistent government policy. The sharp down turn in crude oil prices and the rising vegetable oil prices makes the parity of biodiesel with gas oil unviable on a free market basis. Globally, the biodiesel industry is dependent on government mandates. Each region of the world is trying to protect its agricultural market by imposing tariff & non-tariff barriers for the free trade of biodiesel. Palm biodiesel being the most cost-efficient faces the biggest barrier to entry into most soft oil markets, such as the EU and the US. While significant ​work have been undertaken to study the performance of engines and automotives with varying blends of biodiesel, getting warranties beyond B7 especially with palm biodiesel continues to be a challenge.  The uncertainty of governments changing their stance on renewable energy targets and compliance adds another difficult dimension to running the industry in a sustainable manner. Mr Unnithan will share the processing challenges to meet these tightening specifications, as well as discuss possible alternative processes in the future.

SeminarRe-engineering current palm oil
degumming process – Malaysia
Muhammad Saiful Nidzam Ismail
(Sime Darby Research Sdn Bhd)
27 February


Phosphoric acid is one of the expensive operating cost at refineries. Therefore, it is important for Sime Darby Research to improve current degumming process at SD Refineries by introducing new parameters and technology which is more efficient. For this project, R&D is focusing on improving the pattern of the dosing, acid concentration and enhance the dosing parameters to an optimum level. The Monthly Average for Phosphoric Acid at Sime Darby Austral was determined at 0.084%. The target is to reduce it to a minimum of 0.058%. This reduction is vital as it will determine the final quality of the refined oil produced. Potential benefits for this project is RM 290,000 per annum with potential replication to another 10 refineries. Additional benefits to this project are reduction of bleaching earth consumption and increase of plant throughput


SeminarContinuous Fractionation:
The Latest Development in Palm Oil Fractionation
Mr K. K. Khoo,
(Desmet Ballestra M Sdn Bhd, Malaysia)
29 February


Palm Oil fractionation is an important step in processing palm oil to be suitable for uses in different applications. Traditionally this process is being carried out in batch stirred reactor where crystals are being agglomerated to the required temperature to meet the specific melting points of the products. The increasing demand for more efficient, more sustainable and optimized processing required the Palm Oil industry to continue in search for new process technologies to remain competitive in the market. Mega size capacity of Palm Oil refineries installation that process more than 2000 tpd are no longer an exception and the economy of scale explains why even the most marginal relative savings in utilities can yield a huge absolute cost reduction. The industrialization of Continuous Dry Fractionation for Palm Oil ​in this respect is regarded as a major step forward for dry fractionation processing. This innovative technological development is not only addressing the optimization of utilities but also to overcome the apparent shortcomings of current batch system with crystal deposits, fouling, product variability and consistency.

Some of the established advantages with continuous fractionation are:- increased throughput- improved yield- lower energy consumption (steam and electivity)- consistency of product qualityFrom the first industrialization of this technology in 2011, it is estimated that as of today there are in excess of about 20.000 MT per day of Palm Oil being fractionated in continuous crystallization process. Most of these processes are dedicated to palm oil fractionation and its fractions: superoleins, superstearin and mid fractions. But the technology has also found entry for rice bran fractionation, fish oil fractionation etc.


Chemical Engineering Matters
Event: Seminar 
Speaker: Dr Alana Collis - Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)
Date: 20th August 2015


This event is an opportunity for chemical engineers to learn about IChemE's Chemical Engineering Matters initiative, and what IChemE can do to better support the profession in Malaysia.

Mathematica Training Workshop
Event: Workshop 
Speaker: -
Date: 27th November 2015


The workshop introduces the core technologies needed to become an adept user of Mathematica, including the Wolfram Language, the notebook interface, programming fundamentals, visualization and interactivity features, and mathematics and statistics functionality. The course is for anyone who would like to become a proficient Mathematica user. This course is helpful for people with little experience with Mathematica and the Wolfram Language as well as for experienced users who would like to broaden their basic understanding of the system

Fermentation strategies for bio-based polymer production from microorganisms
Event: Seminar 
Speaker: Associate Professor Dr John Chi-Wei Lan (Yuan Ze University,Taiwan)
Date: 27th September 2015


Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are known for being the fascinating and the largest group of biopolyesters characterised with the dissimilar properties and functionalities. The P(3HB), one of the PHAs polymer, can be synthesised by enzymatic method either through in-vivo approach (by accumulation in bacteria) or through in-vitro approach [polymerisation of (R)-3HBCoA molecules by PHA synthases]. Conventionally, the in-vitrosynthesis of P(3HB) requires a large amount of high-purity synthase, which limits the production of P(3HB) via this route. In addition, the release of coenzyme A (CoA) hampers the synthase activity, leading to a reduction in polymerization. The talk will present the novel approaches attempted in the synthesis of P(3HB) using (i) immobilised enzyme particle performed in expanded bed system and (ii) suspended enzyme in an aqueous two-phase system.

Dye-linked D-amino acid dehydrogenase: Physiological function and Applications in Biotechnology
Event: Seminar
Speaker: Associate Professor Takenori Satomura (University of Fukui, Japan)
Date: 9th September 2015


Dye-linked D-amino acid dehydrogenases (Dye-DADHs) catalyze the dehydrogenation of free D-amino acids in the presence of an artificial electron acceptor.  Although Dye-DADHs functioning in catabolism of L-alanine and as primary enzymes in electron transport chains are widely distributed in mesophilic Gram-negative bacteria, biochemical and biotechnological information on these enzymes remains scanty.  This is in large part due to their instability after isolation.  On the other hand, in the last decade, we have found several novel types of Dye-DADH in thermophilic bacteria and hyperthermophilic archaea, where they contribute not only to L-alanine catabolism but also to the catabolism of other amino acids such as L-hydroxyproline.  In this presentation, we summarize recent developments in our understanding of the biochemical characteristics of Dye-DADHs and their specific application to electrochemical biosensors.