Palm Oil Sustainability: An Inconvenient Truth

Of late there has been much reporting in the media questioning the sustainability of Malaysian palm oil production turning it into the whipping boy of Europe and the US. This article analyses the chronological events leading up to this state of affairs to examine if the backlash is indeed unfair and if there is a way forward to get past this impasse.

Granted, we have much to thank the palm oil industry. It has contributed greatly to the nation’s GDP and reduced the poverty rate in Malaysia.

However, we often read that the success of the industry did not come without a price:

Today, we are so successful but we went through so many challenges. “Because of the success of our palm oil, countries that produce other vegetable oils attacked us …
“Because we are so competitive, that’s why they are always targeting palm oil …

Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, Minister, Plantation Industries and Commodities, Malaysia

As may be expected, the palm oil industry’s potential adverse impact on environment and climate change will strike anyone knowledgeable out there who is concerned about the fact that as palm oil production was being scaled up, simultaneously, rainforests were being displaced on a massive magnitude. Further, there are growing concerns about food safety among European and American households who as consumers have a heightened awareness about such issues.

When did the attacks start and why are they continuing?

Continue reading “Palm Oil Sustainability: An Inconvenient Truth”

Réorganiser les moulins à huile de palme dans les centres d’efficacité énergétique

Moulins à huile de palme peuvent libérer les énergies renouvelables à des niveaux d’efficacité énergétique extrêmement élevés découlant des caractéristiques uniques de leurs paramètres de fonctionnement.

Moulins à huile de palme sont dans une position enviable pour exploiter des quantités accrues d’énergie renouvelable à des rendements très élevés, dont le potentiel reste largement inexploité.

À l’heure actuelle, les usines d’huile de palme ont tendance à se concentrer sur les opérations de fraisage. Ils sont principalement concernés par l’activité de base tournant autour du traitement des grappes de fruits frais (FFB) et les taux d’extraction du pétrole. Cependant, une nouvelle hypothèse envisage les usines fonctionnant comme des centres d’énergie renouvelable.

La majeure partie de la masse FFB du champ transporté à l’usine de traitement est déchargé en tant que résidu de biomasse. De ce résidu, la teneur en énergie des fibres de mésocarpe et de palmiste coquilles sont utilisées de manière inefficace pour fournir les besoins énergétiques de l’usine. En fait, les moulins à huile de palme peuvent libérer l’énergie renouvelable à des niveaux extrêmement élevés d’efficacité énergétique découlant des caractéristiques uniques de leurs paramètres de fonctionnement. Continue reading “Réorganiser les moulins à huile de palme dans les centres d’efficacité énergétique”

The Air-Void, a ‘drop-in-place’ retrofit solution for air-free sterilisation

Inefficient air removal – the culprit.

horizontal-steriliser
Steam management and boiler operational issues at palm oil mills continue to remain problematic and have yet to be satisfactorily resolved. The root cause can be traced to the inefficient method of air removal at the steriliser station.

Inefficient usage of process steam arising from using outdated and inefficient methods to evacuate residual air in the steriliser vessels is the main cause of unrelenting problems at palm oil mills, particularly those affecting boiler operation – currently widespread at palm oil mills.

The Air-Void® has been created specifically to solve the above-mentioned problem. Continue reading “The Air-Void, a ‘drop-in-place’ retrofit solution for air-free sterilisation”

New Technological Innovation to Drive Efficiency, Creativity and Profitability at Palm Oil Mills

The Dream Mill

palm-oil-mill-engineer
Can life for palm oil mill Managers and Engineers be (ever) made ‘easy’? Actually, yes. With a solution that is both easy and simple. Just picture this… managers and engineers focusing on mill processes and production matters rather than tending to persistent mill utility issues, thereby enriching their daily working life and enhancing the core business of their company.

Today, technological innovation has given a boost to palm oil mill operations. New technologies are available to re-engineer the design of existing palm oil extraction processes to achieve the above. Continue reading “New Technological Innovation to Drive Efficiency, Creativity and Profitability at Palm Oil Mills”

Re-engineering palm oil mills into centres of energy efficiency

Palm oil mills can unleash renewable energy at enormously high energy efficiency levels arising from the unique characteristics of their operating parameters.

Palm oil mills are in an enviable position to harness increased quantities of renewable energy at very high efficiencies, the potential of which remains largely unrealised.

At the moment, palm oil mills tend to focus on milling operations. They are predominantly concerned with the core business revolving around the processing of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) and oil extraction rates. However, a new premise envisions mills operating as centres of energy efficiency.

The bulk of the FFB mass from the field transported to the mill for processing is discharged as biomass residue. Of this residue, the energy content of the mesocarp fibre and palm kernel shells are being used in inefficient ways to provide the energy needs of the mill. In actual fact, palm oil mills can unleash renewable energy at enormously high energy efficiency levels arising from the unique characteristics of their operating parameters. Continue reading “Re-engineering palm oil mills into centres of energy efficiency”

Re-ingeniería Molinos de Aceite de Palma en Centros de Eficiencia Energética

Molinos de aceite de palma pueden dar rienda suelta a las energías renovables en niveles altísimos de eficiencia energética derivados de las características únicas de sus parámetros de funcionamiento.

Molinos de aceite de palma están en una posición envidiable para aprovechar la energía renovable a muy altas eficiencias, el potencial de que sigue siendo en gran parte no realizada.

Molinos de aceite de palma en general, tienden a centrarse en las operaciones de fresado. Son predominantemente preocupado con la actividad principal gira en torno a la transformación de los Racimos de Fruta Fresca (RFF) y las tasas de extracción de aceite.  Sin embargo hay una nueva premisa de que prevé molinos para operar como centros de eficiencia energética.

Molinos de aceite de palma descargan grandes cantidades de biomasa, que es generalmente considerada como un producto de desecho. La mayor parte de la masa RFF desde el campo transportado al molino para el procesamiento se descarga como residuo de biomasa. Este residuo proporciona una rica fuente de abundante energía renovable si se las orienta a altas eficiencias. Sin embargo, en la actualidad la energía potencial inherente no es ni completamente apreciado ni explotada de una manera apropiada. Optimizar el aprovechamiento de la energía renovable reduce el dióxido de carbono (CO2) de la producción de aceite de palma, y de ahí su huella de carbono. Continue reading “Re-ingeniería Molinos de Aceite de Palma en Centros de Eficiencia Energética”

Merekayasa ulang Pabrik Kelapa Sawit Menjadi Pusat Efisiensi Energi

Pabrik Kelapa Sawit dapat menghasilkan energi terbarukan dengan tingkat efisiensi yang luar biasa besar timbul dari karakteristik unik dari parameter operasinya.

Pabrik kelapa sawit (PKS) berada pada posisi yang menguntungkan untuk memanfaatkan energi terbarukan dengan efisiensi yang sangat tinggi, potensi yang sebagian besar masih belum direalisasi.

PKS umumnya cenderung fokus pada operasi pengolahan. Pada umumnya perhatian mereka ada pada seputaran mengolah tandan buah segar (TBS) dan rendemen minyak. Namun ada kenyataan baru yang menyatakan bahwa pabrik kelapa sawit dapat beroperasi sebagai pusat efisiensi energi.

PKS menghasilkan sejumlah besar biomassa, yang umumnya dianggap sebagai limbah. Sebagian besar massa TBS yang diangkut dari lapangan diolah di PKS dihasilkan sebagai sisa produksi (biomassa).

Sisa ini mengandung sumber energi terbarukan yang melimpah jika dimanfaatkan dengan efisiensi tinggi. Namun, saat ini potensi energi yang ada pada biomass tersebut belum sepenuhnya dihargai atau dimanfaatkan dengan cara yang tepat. Pemanfaratan energi terbarukan secara optimal dapat mengurangi emisi karbon dioksida (CO2) produksi minyak kelapa sawit, dan juga jejak karbonnya. Continue reading “Merekayasa ulang Pabrik Kelapa Sawit Menjadi Pusat Efisiensi Energi”

National Policies on Renewable Energy Utilisation and Abatement of Global Warming

Malaysia’s Policies on Renewable Energy and Global Warming that Went Awry

sustainable energy

The Fifth-Fuel Policy under the Eight Malaysia Plan (2001- 2005) identified renewable energy sources as the fifth-fuel to be included into the national energy mix and more specifically, biomass residue from the palm oil mills as a major renewable energy resource. The policy pushed for optimising the use of renewable energy resources as a way to achieve maximum reduction of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. The fifth-fuel policy delved further to encourage co-generation as a suitable method to extract electricity and usable heat from biomass resources, mainly for in-house consumption. In this respect, the implementation of the policy faulted on two accounts:

  1. Firstly, by narrowly interpreting the policy direction as renewable for electricity generation the other important aspect, i.e. the simultaneous production of usable heat for in-house use was disregarded; and
  2. As a result of (1) above, standalone biomass-based power plants incinerating empty fruit bunches (EFB) remains from palm oil mills were promoted. This led to the second neglect, namely, prime biomass resource in the palm oil mills, which comprises mesocarp fibre and palm kernel shell that has tremendous renewable energy potential. The neglect of this prime biomass resource continues till today resulting in leaving their inherent renewable energy potential largely underutilised.

A downside to the two neglects mentioned above is that the standalone-small-scale-low-efficiency-electricity-only power plants burning empty fruit bunches, as forecast, demonstrated to be financially not viable and this unattractive economics continues to hamper biomass renewable energy development in Malaysia till today.
Continue reading “National Policies on Renewable Energy Utilisation and Abatement of Global Warming”

Selection of Sterilizer Technology for Energy Efficient Operation of Palm Oil Mills

Sterilizer Technology Affects the Overall Energy Efficiency of Palm Oil Mills

The type of sterilizer technology utilised in the palm oil mill greatly affects steam and power demand, and performance of the sterilization process. With the growing demand for energy efficiency at palm oil mills, the selection of sterilizer is based mainly on its relevance to steam and power consumption because this will influence the overall energy efficiency of the palm oil extraction process.

palm-oil-mill-energy-efficiency

The efficient use of energy at a palm oil mill is a major factor that reduces the carbon footprint of palm oil and impact on global warming trends and thus helps prevent climate changes. Utilizing biomass residues generated from the palm oil production process for its energy yield efficiently and productively further determines carbon emissions levels and the sustainability of palm oil production. Continue reading “Selection of Sterilizer Technology for Energy Efficient Operation of Palm Oil Mills”

Carbon Footprint of Palm Oil and the Palm Biodiesel Dilemma

There is more to Malaysian B5 biodiesel than meets the eye!

Believe it or not. Read on…

carbon-footprint

Palm Biodiesel Is Not Clean or Green! The Malaysian B5 Biodiesel program is set to release even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than petroleum diesel intensifying global warming. But, it need not be. Tech savvy solutions are already available to confront the Carbon Footprint of Palm Oil, a base feedstock for the Biodiesel, and preserve the environment against global warming effects but the will to adopt appears to be entirely wanting. Continue reading “Carbon Footprint of Palm Oil and the Palm Biodiesel Dilemma”