Journal of Oil Palm Research (Special Issue - October 2008), p. 22-32


ASTIMAR Abdul Aziz* ; MOHD BASRI Wahid* ; CHOO Yuen May*


A method was developed to produce advanced carbon products from oil palm biomass. Oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) contains polymeric lignocellulosic components such as hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin, and is therefore a potential raw material for producing advanced materials such as carbon electrode and molecular sieve carbon. Carbon precursors were prepared by slow pyrolysis of EFB under vacuum at 280°C. Powder obtained from grinding and ball milling the semi-pyrolysed EFB was then treated with 0.2, 0.4 and 0.6 M H2SO4 and dried at 100°C. The chemical changes of the treated EFB carbon precursors are discussed by their Thermogravimetric (TGA) results. Green body pellets were then prepared by molding of the carbon precursors powder at 10 t of compression force and then carbonized at 600°C, 800°C and 1000ºC using multiple heating profiles under nitrogen gas flow. The carbon pellets prepared from 0.4 M H2SO4 gave the highest density (ρ), Young’s modulus (E), Rockwell hardness (H) and electrical conductivity (σ). These indicated that the treatment had increased the crystallinity of the carbon as also evidenced by the XRD analysis results. BET surface area analysis was carried out and it was found that the carbon precursors treated with 0.6 M H2SO4 produced the activated carbon with the highest porosity. The carbon pellets produced from the treatment with 0.6 M H2SO4 and carbonized at different temperatures were further activated with CO2 to further increase their porosity, and the effects of different carbonization temperature on the pore structure and adsorptive properties for oxygen and nitrogen were investigated. This study has identified oil palm EFB as a potentially suitable raw material for the preparation of carbon electrode and molecular sieve carbon.


* Malaysian Palm Oil Board,
P. O. Box 10620,
50720 Kuala Lumpur,