During the process of palm oil production, a considerable amount of water is needed, leading to the generation of huge volumes of wastewater known as palm oil mill effluent (POME).
POME contains soluble materials such as CH4, SO2, NH3, halogens, or soluble liquids with their concentration above the threshold value that are harmful to the environment.
Researcher said, Indonesian palm oil mills emit nearly 2,000 metric tons of methane every day, a powerful greenhouse gas, from the waste treatment of palm oil mill effluent (POME), which cannot be discharged in its raw form.
Regarding to this, it is very important to treat these effluents before being discharged into the environment.
The most common techniques for POME treatment is usually performed by a series of anaerobic, facultative and aerobic ponds system.
This system has several drawbacks such as the requirement of a wide land area for the lagoons and extra cost for handling the sludge in the bottom of the lagoons.
Estimated that from each ton of FFB, about 5 tonne of water is required and about 50 % end up as POME. This implies that about 2.5 tonne of POME will be generated per ton of CPO production. According to the previous study, 1 tonne of POME may give approximately 28 m3 biogas.
Renewable Energy Mix
Palm oil is the best alternative energy source to replace old fossil energy sources since high productivity and is environmentally friendly. Palm-based energy sources can be one of the strategic choices to meet electricity needs in Indonesia.
Though POME is waste byproduct of palm kernel milling, it can become an energy source when its biogas byproduct is harnessed for electricity production.
The recovery of biogas from POME to produce electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a demonstrably profitable practice that has been widely adopted across Southeast Asia.
The liquid waste in Crude Palm Oil production process can be utilized not only as animal feedstocks or fertilizers, but also in electricity generation by convert them into biogas.
Biogas power plants that use POME as energy feedstock may give economic benefits for palm oil producers, not only used in the internal process but also by selling the electrical potential to the electricity company.
Implementing POME to biogas renewable energy projects at 742 mills of Indonesia’s could supply enough electricity to meet the needs of approximately 1,800,000 Indonesian households and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19.3 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year.
Additionally, implementing scalable POME-to-biogas technology should increase households’ access to renewable energy and reduce the environmental impact of the palm oil industry while increasing its economic competitiveness.
Biogas produced from palm oil mill effluent could potentially be used to support the state’s power grid as well as for rural electrification project. It would be good as well to achieve the target of 23% of New Renewable Energy of national energy mix by 2025.Editor : Joko Yuwono