Capturing Biogas: A Means to Reduce Green House Gas Emissions for the Production of Crude Palm Oil
S. Vijaya, A.N. Ma and Y. M. Choo
DOI : 10.3844/ajgsp.2010.1.6
Current Research in Geoscience
Volume 1, Issue 1
Problem statement: The Malaysian oil palm industry is an important industry to the nation. In 2009 alone the total export earnings reached RM 49.6 billion. The industry is under constant attack of its performance from the perspective of the environment, especially with regard to its Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions. Being an export orientated industry; this issue has to be tackled head on to quantify the GHG emissions of the oil palm industry. Approach: About 12 palm oil mills were selected for this gate to gate case study. Inventory data which consisted of raw material, energy usage and gaseous emissions were collected from the selected palm oil mills over a period of 3 years. A comparative study was conducted to compare the GHG emissions of the production of Crude Palm Oil (CPO) with and without allocation and biogas capture. GHG emissions from all sources are summed up and changed into units of CO2 equivalent (CO2 eq) which is used to standardize GHG emissions. Results: The main parameter causing the highest contribution to the GHG emissions within this system boundary is the biogas from the anaerobic treatment of the POME. When biogas is captured, the total GHG emission drops significantly. This shows the urgency and need for the palm oil mills to capture their biogas and use it as renewable energy. Conclusion: Less than 10% of the palm oil mills capture their biogas because the palm oil mills have excess energy from their biomass itself and to invest in a large sum of money to harvest the biogas will mean that they will need the infrastructure to use or sell the harvested biogas. Currently, the industry is moving towards either harnessing biogas from POME or producing value-added products such as fertilizer from POME which avoids methane generation. This move is visible with the gradual annual increase in the number of palm oil mills capturing their biogas.
© 2010 S. Vijaya, A.N. Ma and Y. M. Choo. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.