Valorisation of Biowastes in the Indonesian Palm Oil Industry through Integrated Anaerobic Digestion and Pyrolysis: Towards a Circular Bioeconomy

Grantham Scholar Novelita Wahyu Mondamina aims to evaluate the implementation of integrated AD and Pyrolysis for biowaste valorisation.

The project

The concept of a circular bioeconomy represents a shift from the traditional linear model of ‘take-make-dispose’ to an innovative approach based on resource efficiency and sustainability. This model is of particular relevance to the palm oil industry in Indonesia, a sector marked by its significant contribution to the national economy but also by the substantial environmental challenges it presents. The industry’s waste, primarily in the form of POME (Palm Oil Mill Effluent), EFB (Empty Fruit Bunches), and other solid residues, represents both a challenge and an opportunity. This research proposes to explore the potential for creating value from this waste and contributing to Indonesia’s sustainable development goals by integrating Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and Pyrolysis technologies.

Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil. This prominence, however, comes with considerable environmental costs, notably from the waste generated in palm oil production. Approximately 75% of the fresh fruit bunches (FFB) processed result in waste, including shells, fibres, EFBs, and POME. These waste products, if not properly managed, pose severe environmental hazards. Current utilization strategies primarily include the use of solid waste as boiler fuel and organic fertilizer, while POME is often directed to anaerobic digestion for biogas production. However, these practices have not fully addressed the environmental concerns nor maximized the potential value of these waste streams. There remains a substantial need for more efficient, sustainable, and value-added waste management strategies in Indonesia’s palm oil industry.

Despite the current waste management practices, there’s a significant research gap in the integration of different technological processes to enhance waste valorisation. This research aims to fill this gap by evaluating the implementation of integrated AD and Pyrolysis for biowaste valorisation. The study will explore innovative approaches, such as the use of biochar to enhance AD, degradation of syngas condensates in AD reactors, and evaluation of biochar as slow-release fertiliser. The scope will encompass both technological efficacy and broader environmental and economic implications.