Oil Palm Residue Could Solve Food vs. Biofuel Debate
by Ismira Lutfia (Jakarta Globe) The millions of tons of fibrous residue produced by palm oil plantations across the country could soon become a major source of raw material for renewable fuel.
Over the past year, scientists from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and Seoul’s Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) have been working on a joint project to turn a waste product into a viable alternative energy resource.
By next year, the scientists are optimistic that the pilot plant and research lab built for the project in the Research Center for Science and Technology (Puspiptek) in Serpong, Banten, can start regular production of bioethanol from the leftover parts of the oil palm plant.
“This is the first project of its kind in Indonesia and we have set a pilot production target of 10 liters of bioethanol per day by 2012,” said Yanni Sudiyani, the chief researcher for bioethanol and biomass at LIPI.
…“So we looked for non-food material such as oil palm residue, which is abundantly available in the country, being the world’s largest palm oil producer,” she said.
The oil palm residue has high cellulose content, Zalinar said, which can be processed into liquid glucose that would be fermented to serve as the basic material for bioethanol.
To be sure, Indonesia is by no means the first country to produce what is referred to as second-generation biofuels from oil palm residue. Malaysia, the world’s No. 2 palm oil producer, began producing it a few years back.
…Indonesia also has the potential to produce biofuel from bagasse — the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane is processed. With around 230 million tons of bagasse produced per year, Haznan said it could be developed into 17,618 billion liters of bioethanol per year. READ MORE