Implementation plan Palm Oil substitute

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Type Research internship

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The problem:

Recently Accenture started an initiative to combat the negative effects of palm oil production. Palm oil is used in a large variety of food and self-care products and is the main ingredient of biofuels. The unique physical characteristics of the substance and the fact that the African palm tree grows it’s fruit efficient from which the palm oil is extracted, causes the demand for palm oil to be high.
Oil palms are originally from Western Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Today, 80 – 90% of all palm oil globally is produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia, and many inhabitants and farmers in Indonesia and Malaysia depend on the palm oil industry. The current way of producing the oil is however linked to major issues, such as:
1. Deforestation
2. Indigenous rights abuse
3. Climatological effects (CO2 emission and soil depletion)
4. Loss of biodiversity
5. Animal cruelty

Strategy Accenture:

The Accenture project team agreed on working towards a comprehensive solution to combat the negative effects of palm oil. Because palm oil production is the root cause, we try to work towards a solution that helps to combat the current palm oil production process taking into account the current social economic, legal, environmental and technological complex.

The Accenture project team found an academic team working on producing a substance that has the same physical properties as palm oil. The production process of this substitute utilizes a yeast to produce an oily end product which can act as a substitute for palm oil. Several by-products are also produced by the process such as 2-phenylethanol (rose flavoring/smell). Further research is being done to scale the production process and increase the end product quality. Expectation is that within 3,5 years a pilot production-installation has been developed that is able to produce the substitute on semi industrial scale (30.000 L). At that phase, the end-product can also be sold on the market.
The development of the substitute is conducted within a university and until now the research was solely focused on improving the technical aspects of the production process such as applying alternative chemical methods to fuel synthesis. A Life Cycle Assessment of the process has been done to give the technical development and research guidance.


Intern support request:

A good business perspective and business plan for the implementation of the substitute is absent. There are many business aspects that need to be considered before the substitute can be efficiently introduced into the market. The Accenture project team aims to make an impact in both the business and implementation domain in order to accelerate the implementation of the product. To do so successfully, both the new production technology and business principles need to be understood.

The Internship:

We are looking for two enthusiastic master interns who want to participate in the research and build an implementation plan. The following topics are identified together with our research partner and can be assembled to an internship in consultation:

Research topics:
 Assessing palm oil replacement gap and potential.
 Vision defined on how to enter the market with the substitute and by-products.
 Market analysis of potential uses of the substitute and by-products, barriers and suitable cost ranges taking (local) stakeholders into account.

Internship work:
 Contact with industries interested in a bio-route for by-product 2-phenylethanol.
 Contact with SME or smaller companies to demonstrate the yeast on the pilot scale quickly, to help accelerate the route to market.

Getting a general overview of the current situation of palm oil production, the production process of the substitute and understanding which strategic aspects are involved with the integration of the substitute in the supply chain are key. The exact assignment has to be developed in accordance with the researchers from the university, therefore there is enough space for own interpretation of the assignment. The internship can be fulfilled as 100% research- or combined working and research internship (so other than what is described by type).

• You will be guided by a team of experienced consultants;
• You will receive a compensation (500€/month) and a laptop;
• You will gain knowledge and expertise of Accenture;
• You will gain experience within a large international consulting firm;

Preference for bachelor or master student Master students
Study MSc Energy Science, MSc Innovation Sciences, MSc Sustainable Business and Innovation, MSc Sustainable Development, MSc Water Science and Management
Field Innovation, Environmental and Energy Sciences
Starts February
Length Between 6 and 9 months
Location Amsterdam
Language Dutch or English
Attachment Download
Compensation 500€/month
Application procedure

1st stage: Interview
2nd stage: Capacity test
3rd stage: Sign contract/start internship


Gustav Mahlerlaan 90
1082 MA Amsterdam

Contact Faculty of Geosciences
Erika Dijksma