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Palms: FET expects palm trees to become an even more important crop in the future. Palm trees
such as Arenga pinnata, Nypa fruticans, and Borassus flabellifer grow sustainably in Southeast
Asia and can be harvested for large amounts of high sugar content sap. Other species of sugar
producing palms grow in Africa and South America. The extracted sap can be used for
production of e.g. syrup, sugar, vinegar, sweet and alcoholic beverages, and biofuel. In fact, palm
trees are able to produce higher yields in sugar and alcohol compared to conventional crops, such
as sugarcane, sugar beet, maize, cassava, and sweet potatoes.
However, the tapping of the palm sap is very labor-intensive. It must be done daily otherwise the
sap flow stops. Depending on the palm specie, tappers must either climb to the top of the palm or
walk in waist-high muddy waters to get to the inflorescence of the palm. Then, tappers manually
slice a thin layer of the inflorescence with a knife which initiates the sap to flow into an attached
container. The height/location of the palm, the pre-treatment of the inflorescence, the number of
daily repetitions, and the large amount of sap per palm per day make the tapping process very
Therefore, FET aims to develop an automatic sap extraction solution. FETs solution will help
establish an economic and sustainable large-scale production of products from palm sap (e.g.
coconut palm sugar and bioethanol).
There is already a high demand for the sugar-rich sap from e.g. the food industry. The growing
global interest in natural and healthy products has increased the demand for palm sugar as it has
proven to have a unique set of health benefits compared to traditional table sugar. According to
The Philippine Food and Nutrition Research Institute coconut palm sugar is now classified as an
alternative sweetener with a low Glycemic Index (GI) of 35. In addition, palm sugar is already
used in different food products, e.g. Unilevers Kecap Bango sweet soy sauce, Barkleys Natural
Confectionerys organic chocolate bars, and LovingEarths Coconut Sugar Chocolate Bars.
At the same time, the worlds energy demand is projected to increase as it is linked to population
and economic growth. As a consequence of this, one of the greatest challenges is to ensure a
sufficient supply of reliable, affordable and sustainable energy. FETs technology has the potential
to change the perception of biofuel production as it can increase the supply of liquid biomass
using only existing natural resources.
See the illustration below for a selection of different applications of the extracted plant sap.

Trees: Furthermore, FETs core technologies have a large improvement potential within tapping
of sap from other plants. FET expects that it is possible to transfer its innovative phloem-based
tapping technologies to e.g. angiosperm and gymnosperm trees native to Europe and North
For instance, tapping of sap from maple trees for maple syrup production is a large commercial
industry. The sap is traditionally tapped through the xylem tissue of the maple tree. FET
possesses unique knowledge about plants defence mechanisms to make the transfer from palms
to trees possible.
This can potentially result in a more efficient and sustainable phloem-based tapping method for
the maple syrup industry. In general, extraction of substances from other trees/plants can also be
of high commercial value and could represent new interesting business areas.

References and links to related scientific articles and presentations:

Tapping of palms: Dalibard, C. 1999. Overall view on the tradition of tapping palm trees and
prospects for animal production. International Relations Service, Ministry of Agriculture, Paris,
France. Click here
Arenga pinnata: Ecofys & Winrock. 2011. Sugar palm ethanol Analysis of economic
feasibility and sustainability. Agentschap NL, Ministerie van Economische Zaken, Landbouw en
Nypa fructicans: Miyasaka et al. 2012. Potential of bioethanol production from sugars in nipa
sap. 9th Biomass-Asia Workshop, Tokyo, Japan. Role of Biomass as Renewable Energy. Click

Cocos nucifera: Philippine Coconut Authority. 2012. Coconut sap sugar industry roadmap. 1st
National coconut sap sugar congress, Davao City, Philippines. Click here
Nutritional and health benefits of coconut sugar:
Trinidad, T. 2011. Nutritional and health benefits of coconut sugar. Food and Nutrition Research
Institute, Department of Science and Technology. Click here
Coconut Palm Sugar Natures Perfect Sweetener. 2013. Sweet Tree Coconut Palm Sugar. Click