Palm Kernel Shells is New Primadonna
Indonesia is a country that produces the largest palm oil production in the world. Based on GAPKI’s data, palm oil production in Indonesia in 2019 reached 51.8 million tons per year. With an abundant total production, the resulting palm kernel shells also have a large number. From one ton of oil palm, it can produce shell waste of about 6 to 7 percent or around 144 kg. If we converted, the volume of palm kernel shells in 2019 will reached 7.45 million tons.
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.
One of the utilization of palm kernel shells is carried out by Palm Oil Mill as a source of steam power for fuel for broilers which are needed in the palm oil production process. Utilization of palm kernel shells as fuel needed by broilers is very efficient because of its large availability, free and high thermal energy.
This palm kernel shell can also be used as a raw material for high quality charcoal. The advantage of charcoal from palm kernel shells compared to wood or coconut shell charcoal is that the heat energy generated from burning charcoal is greater, reaching 20 thousand Kj/Kg.
In addition being charcoal, product innovation is also produced from processing palm kernel shells into charcoal briquettes. Processing palm kernel shells mixed with adhesive ingredients containing stracth so that it can produce charcoal briquettes that have a function that can replace kerosene or others fossil fuel.
The potential as an alternative energy source that is environmentally friendly is not only limited to being a source of energy in broilers, charcoal and charcoal briquettes, but palm kernel shells can be an alternative sustainable energy substitute for fossil fuels that can be used as fuel in power plants.
Research on this matter has been very much done, one of which is the research of Syafriuddin and Rio (2012) which compared the use of palm shells against coal and diesel in power plants. The results showed that for a power plant per 10 MWh required 1.2 tons of palm kernel shells, which was equivalent to 648.82 liters of diesel or 1.3 tons of coal. Meanwhile, the costs incurred by using palm kernel shells for the power plant were only Rp. 762 thousand, while the cost for using diesel was Rp. 2.92 million and coal of Rp. 1.34 million. This means that palm kernel shells are the cheapest and efficient alternative fuel to produce electrical energy.
The potential for renewable energy alternatives in palm kernel shells has also been attracted by the global market. Japan, as an importer of palm kernel shells, used this biomass to generate electricity with the Feed-in Tariff scheme. Even the Japanese Government through the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) issued an incentive policy for power plant companies that use palm shells as their raw material.
Apart from being a source of energy, palm kernel shells can also be used as a mixture of animal feed, plant fertilizers (biochar), raw materials for plantations road hardening, coarse aggregates in concrete, organic acids, raw materials for making glue, particle board and handicrafts.
In the midst of the Covid pandemic, palm kernel shells can also be processed into disinfectant products which are much needed as an effort to prevent the transmission of the Covid-19 virus. The use of palm kernel shells which is processed into liquid smoke, which is the raw material for producing disinfectants, is one of the potentials that can be developed and its utilization can be maximized into a product that can be marketed globally.
With the many potential products that can be produced from processing palm kernel shells, this biomass is one of the primadonna that is in demanding in the global market. Japan, as one of the largest importing countries for palm kernel shells, has imported this product with an average volume of 1.2 million tons per year.
Based on IQFAST data, the frequency of shipments of palm kernel shells in 1st Semester-2019 was 67 times with export volume reaching more than 466 thousand tons. Meanwhile, in Semester I-2020, the export frequency increased to 85 times with the volume almost doubling to more than 812 thousand tons. This shows that, despite the pandemic and the threat of a global economic recession, the export performance of oil palm shells has increased by 27 percent. Meanwhile, export destinations for palm kernel shells other than Japan are South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, United Kingdom, and Australia.
With the many and varied product potentials, the potential for export foreign exchange generated and a brilliant market opportunity, making palm kernel shells can not only be considered as biomass or waste, but the prospect of this product is much greater. Therefore, Palm Oil Entrepreneurs (Sawitpreneur) and Indonesian Government must work together to make the most of the existing market opportunities by playing a major role in the use of palm kernel shells as an alternative to environmentally friendly energy or other economic value products.
Share this article
You may also like these articles