The Innovation of Palm Kernel Shell as Energy Source for Hot Mixed Asphalt Production
Palm kernel shells are biomass from the processing of Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) to produce crude palm oil (CPO) and palm kernel oil (CPKO). The content of them consists are minimal ash content, moisture content, activated carbon around 20-22 percent, and high volatile matter content,reaching 69-70 percent. With this content, they are not only useless waste, but can be processed and used into useful products that even have high economic value.
Compared to other biomass, palm kernel shells have a relatively high value for calorie burning, which is around 17-19 MJ/kg. The utilization of energy potential contains in shells is still limited, which is only carried out by the Palm Oil Mill, which makes them as a source of steam power for broiler in the palm oil production. The use of them as an energy source is also in the form of charcoal briquettes and a substitute for diesel or coal in power plants.
Even though the downstream of palm kernel shells has progressed, but the utilization and absorption are still not yet optimal, so that their abundant are mostly exported, one of which is exports to Japan. On the other hand, there are domestic industries that need alternative energy sources for their production processes.
The research team from Sebelas Maret University supported by BPDPKS utilized palm kernel shells as an energy source to produce hot mix asphalt products. In Pekan Riset Sawit, Dr. Sunu Herwi Pranolo, S.T, M.Sc, presented the results of his research briefly from the stages of design, manufacture, installation, and testing of the palm kernel shell gasification unit until the testing results of products and its laying.
The production of Hot Mix Asphalt in an Asphalt Mixing Plant (AMP) industry requires energy for heating aggregate and asphalt before the mixing process. This research utilizes palm kernel shell waste as energy for heating the aggregate which is obtained through the gasification process. To produce one ton of Hot Mixed Asphalt using palm shell gasification technology in AMP requires about 40-45 kilograms of palm kernel shell or equivalent of 10-14 liters of diesel.
Asphalt produced from palm kernel shells gasification technology was also tested using the Marshal Test and Coring Test which showed the results were in accordance with the desired specifications. In addition, asphalt was also chemically tested through FITR analysis which showed no significant difference in the chemical characteristics of hot mix asphalt using either diesel fuel or palm kernel shells gassification as an aggregate heater. This shows that the use of oil palm shell gasification results in the aggregate heating process will produce high-quality Hot Mixed Asphalt.
The use of palm shell gasification as an energy source has superiority in terms of lower energy costs compared to using of diesel. Economic analysis also shows the potential for energy cost savings between palm kernel shells and solar for each production of one ton of Hot Mixed Asphalt of Rp. 50,000-Rp. 130,000.
It means, utilization of palm kernel shells can reduce 75 percent of the cost of fuel consumption so that the total production costs are still lower than the use of fossil fuels, even though there are additional “treatments” such as the installation of a gasification device, the cost of handling palm kernel shells and additional labor for operating the gasifier. In addition to the more economical price of palm kernel shells, the availability of palm shells is also very abundant compared to using diesel, natural gas, and gasification from fossil fuels.
The utilization of biomass from palm kernel shells as energy for heating the aggregate is more eco-friendly, because the biomassa seen as carbon neutral so can reduce around 40 percent of carbon emissions compared to the use of fossil fuels. This utilization of it can also produce a domino effect for oil palm plantations, the ash as result burning of palm kernel shells can be returned to the plantation to fulfill nutrient needs. So that, the sustainabiity will also be achieved at the plantation, because can reduce in the using of fertilizers, which is also a source of emissions.
The success story of this research is also expected to be able to change government regulations regarding the fuel needed in the aggregate heating process in making Hot Mixed Asphalt. The government regulation in question is the Surat Edaran Dirjen Binamarga Kementerian PUPR No. 10/SE/M/2011, where the fulfillment of this energy must be supplied by the heat from burning fuel (diesel), natural gas or gasification coal. It is hoped that this research will become a government recommendation by adding the results of palm kernel shells gasification as one of the energy sources needed in production of Hot Mixed Asphalt. So that, the inovation generated from this this research can be commercialized anda traded immediately.
Policy recommendations that legalize palm kernel shell gasification as heating energy for making Hot Mixed Asphalt will also benefit various parties. From the perspective of the Indonesian government, which is actively developing infrastructure to support economic growth, the implementation of this policy will have the potential to saving more infrastructure budget, or with the same budget size can build the road infrastructure longer.
Manufacturers of Hot Mixed Asphalt can also enjoy economic benefits due to energy cost savings. In addition, the oil palm plantation industry also benefits from reducing the accumulated waste of solid waste from oil palm shells that have not been optimally utilized, at the same time can also use the by-product (palm kernel shells ash burning) as fertilizer.
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