New palm oil mill processes are characterized by advanced oil separation technologies with zero dilution water (‘ECO-D’ for example as a new system for oil recovery without dilution water) and continuous sterilization of the fresh fruit bunch (FFB). These processes have a deep impact on the amount and composition of waste water (POME). Compared to conventional palm oil mills the total amount of palm oil mill effluent (POME) can be reduced from 0.65 m3 t–1 FFB to 0.45 m3 t–1 (conventional sterilization and zero dilution water) and 0.25 m3 t–1 (continuous sterilization and zero dilution water). These changes influence the treatment processes and its cost significantly. One process for the EFB and POME utilization which can fulfil the demand of a sustainable palm oil production is the co-composting of both of the materials. The composting process is used also for biological drying of the POME. The final product of the process is compost or mulch which unifies the nutrients of both in one product. The POME can be used also for biogas production (in fixed bed reactors for POME with low dry matter content and in totally mixed reactors for ECO-D biomass) before composting. The investment cost and profitability of the composting and fermentation process is calculated in detail based on data from practise in Indonesia. The new developments of processes in palm oil mills can reduce the cost for the waste and waste water treatment up to 35%. The benefits from biogas production and composting are the energy production, saved POME treatment cost in pond systems, total utilization of the POME nutrients, reduced cost for the EFB transport and utilization, higher empty fruit bunch (FFB) yields and from clean development mechanism (CDM).
* Heinrich von Thunen-Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, Institute of Technology and Biosystems Engineering, Braunschweig, Germany.
** Development and Application of Environmental friendly Technology GmbH, Bremen, Germany.
+ Indonesian Oil Palm Research Institute (IOPRI), Medan, Indonesia.
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Last updated: 28 November 2016
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