The Oil Palm

Technological breakthrough to achieving zero effluent discharge

Dr. Ishenny Mohd Noor of Universiti Malaya has recently presented new technology that can be used to convert Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) into Biopro Diesel and Biopro Fertilizer. This new technology uses waste water generated from palm oil mills and converts it into fuel and fertilizer – the latter for use in agriculture and the former for use in transport vehicles and electricity generation.

The conversion of POME into Biopro Fertilizer and Biopro Diesel takes the industry a step closer to achieving zero effluent discharge and strengthening its sustainability credentials. And this new source of diesel fuel is free of micro carbon residue, copper and sulphur, resulting in its performance being beyond the European diesel standards and requirements.

This breakthrough has been welcomed by the palm oil industry, which produces on average 405,000 litres of POME a day and continues to work to establish increasingly stringent environmental regulations by complementing its existing systems of POME management – including biogas recovery systems – with new technologies. As pointed out by Dr. Noor, the ability to create ‘a super clean fuel and other by-products from the unwanted waste’, also offers an attractive opportunity to the 426 palm oil mills in East and Peninsular Malaysia to convert waste into a new source of revenue. In addition, he estimates that the establishment of Biopro plants at all palm oil mills in the country would create 4,200 job opportunities.

This year, Dr. Noor is looking to work with mills to establish 10 Biopro plants in Sabah and Sarawak with each plant producing 24,105 litres of Biopro Diesel and 121,500 liters of Biopro Fertilizers per day.

New developments and technological breakthroughs such as these continue to prove the tremendous potential of the oil palm– including the potential of products what were previously seen as waste residues of milling processes.