Newest Innovation of Oil Palm Empty Bunches Waste Utilization
In the process of processing Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) in palm oil mills will produce waste. This waste can be in the form of solid waste or liquid waste. Palm oil solid waste is the most produced waste. The solid waste can be in the form of empty bunches, shells, and fibers.
With the increasing production of palm oil as the main product, it is also directly proportional to the increase in the volume of waste produced. One of them is oil palm empty bunches which are the main waste with large quantity more than 126 thounsa tons/year. One ton of oil palm tree is capable of producing around 23 percent of empty bunches or 230 kg of waste. For this reason, it is necessary to carry out further utilization and management to the maximum so that it becomes a product that has added value.
Not just ordinary waste, oil palm empty bunches actually have a lot of potential to be developed. So far, empty bunches can be processed as raw material for making charcoal briquettes, organic fertilizers, and for making paper. With innovation and technology that continues to develop, empty oil palm bunches can also produce other products.
The making of paper from empty palm fruit bunches has been successfully realized by the Center for Pulp and Paper (BBPK) in collaboration with a consortium of PIC Co., Ltd and Taizen Co., Ltd, which are engaged in the manufacture and sale of industrial machinery for pulp and paper. Through this collaboration, it’s expected for the pulp and paper industry for more independent and no longer dependence on Old Corrugated Cardboard (OCC) type paper.
Oil palm empty bunches can be reprocessed to produce products with high creative and economic value. Processed it can produce two fibers, namely fine fiber and crude fiber. This fiber can be developed into added value products. Febri Yunarta as the founder and owner of Creabrush Indonesia has successfully developed it into shoes and various paintings which have now been marketed through digital platforms.
Not only that, oil palm empty bunches can be used as a mixture for making helmets. Based on the research of the IPB Research Team, it is stated that the natural fibers of oil palm empty bunches have superior impact strength and are able to withstand impact energy. The helmet with a mixture of empty bunches which was finally produced by PT Interstisi Mtrial Maju (IMM) under the name GC Helmet has also passed the SNI test and has been marketed in several cities. In addition, this helmet is certainly environmentally friendly and more artistic in terms of design.
IPB academics have recently developed a new innovation by making bullet-proof vests from empty palm oil bunches. The lignocellulose content in empty bunches has the potential to absorb impact energy. By adding a heat-resistant coating material, the woven in empty bunches fibers can withstand fire within 30 seconds so that is the basis for the design of the bullet proof vest.
The bullet-proof vest developed by IPB academics has been tested using a glock gun with MU1-TJ bullets at an effective range of 25-50 meters and the results are able to withstand these bullets. However, further development or research needs to be done to be able to withstand the gunshot. As we know, the raw materials for bullet proof vests are still imported from other countries. For this reason, this research requires further development so that it is expected to be an alternative choice for domestic needs.
This extraordinary potential reminds us that all parts of palm oil are very valuable and it is proven that from palm oil waste it can be used as a new product with more value.
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