POME Processing to Reduce Palm Oil Mill’ Emissions, All at Once able to Producing High Economic Value Products
So far, the palm oil industry has always been the target of negative campaigns from anti-palm NGOs and other environmental activists. They said palm oil industry produce biggest amount of greenhouse gasses or emissions from deforestation, peatland utilization, and land and forest fires.
In contrast, the facts shows that the palm oil industry has contributes to reducing GHG emissions. Like other crops, palm oil also has a role to reabsorb CO2 from the Earth’s atmosphere through photosynthesis. Not only that, the other contribution of palm oil through development of biodiesel and in the future, other low emission altervative fuels namely green diesel, green gasoline and green avtur. The development of low emission altervative fuels/energies based on palm oil is an effort to reduce consumption on fossil fuel, which we know as the main emitter of greenhouse gases.
Although the palm oil industry has a role in reducing emissions, but this industry still produces emissions. The largest GHG emissions in the palm oil industry (upstream sector) are from palm oil mill. According to Hasanudin U (2008), the largest contributor to emissions at palm oil mill are 63.2 percent, the production rate of fresh fruit bunches are 21.6 percent, and the rest are in the refinery process.
The largest source of emissions in palm oil mill from the liquid waste generated during the processing of FFB into CPO. Liquid waste is Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) which contains many organic compounds that can release hazardous materials such as methane. The volume of POME produced by palm oil mill is also very large reach about 0.62-0.77 m3/ton TBS and the processing is widely carried out in open waste pool; this makes palm oil mills as the largest contributor of emissions in the palm oil industry.
In line with the argument, one of the researchers in the field of Technology Engineering and Environmental Management of the Indonesian Oil Palm Research Institute (IOPRI), Dr. M. Ansori Nasution in an “Bincang Pakar” webinar session, mentioned that based on the results of a study conducted by IOPRI found that emissions on POME waste are approximately 97.6 kg of CO2/ton TBS.
Dr. Ansori in his exposure also mentioned efforts to reduce emissions while producing high economic value-added products can be done using POME waste management technology. For example, the way POME processing becomes biogas, then also can process POME cetane into compost, POME can also be utilized with line application, then POME can also be developed utilization as biogas with membrane. The application of methane capture plant for POME will also reduce emissions by about 8.7 percent so that it will be more environmentally friendly.
Methane capture technology is POME processing through biogas digester tank (methane capture) to produce biogas/bio-methane. PASPI study shows, if it is assumed that 1 ton FFB will produce 0.67m3 POME, then POME production is estimated to reach 139 million m3. And every 1 m3 POME can produce 28 m3 biogases/bioelectric, then biogas production is estimated to reach 3.9 billion m3.
One of the pome waste treatment actors, PT. Pasadena Engineering Indonesia, in the Pojok Iklim 2018 seminar said that the technology used for POME processing using Cover Lagoon. The technology can collect methane gas which will then be converted into biogases that are useful as both fuel and bioelectric. From one factory with a production capacity of 45 tons/hour, it can generate electricity of 1MW which can supply the electricity needs of about one village or a thousand houses.
In addition of the technology, POME processing to produce value-added products can also used as a medium for algae cultivation. PASPI’s study also shows the potential production of algae biodiesel to be produces with the assumption every 1 m3 POME can produce 0.67 kg of biodiesel algae, then the biodiesel algae that can be produced reaches 93 thousand tons.
The Japanese investor, Mobiol Crop CEO Group in collaboration with Tsukuba University in 2019, offers business opportunities for the Indonesian palm oil industry related to POME processing as a medium of cultivation of Novel Algae-DHA. POME mixing technology with algae will produce DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and high quality ester oils for cosmetics as well as aquatic feed and animal feed, which has high economic value.
By innovating through technological improvements, especially in POME waste processing in palm oil mills can help in reducing and decreasing the existing emissions in the palm oil industry. So that with reduced emissions produced can also support the palm oil industry become zero waste industry and more sustainable.
Once paddled, two and three islands exceeded are suitable proverbs to be associated with POME processing technology which was mentioned above. This is because in addition to being able to reduce emissions at the palm oil mills level, POME processing with various technological methods will also produce products of high economic value so that it is expected to produce multiplier effect on the economy and regional welfare is getting bigger.
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