‘We are not a renewable energy company; we are looking at sustainability,’

Waste Into Electricity

Malaysia is a country which is rich with palm oil. It is used for cooking. It can be found in margarines, biscuits, cereals, peanut butter jam. Moreover, it can be used in consumer product such as candles, detergents, lipsticks etc. Actually, it is the most widely used vegetable oil on the planet, accounting for 65% of all vegetable oil traded internationally.

By 2020, the usage of palm oil is expected to be double, as the world’s population increases and as people - especially in countries like China and India - become more affluent and consume more manufactured goods containing palm oil.

Sustainable palm oil?

There is actually sustainable palm oil indeed. Across the globe, around 18% of palm oil production was certified sustainable in 2014, a 10% increase in 2011.

A company has come up with a method that accelerates the process to convert palm oil mill effluent (POME) into fuel for electricity to power mill operations.

Calling itself a “sustainable company”, Hyper Fusion International says its method to create biofuel pellets from the effluent is the first of its kind for POME.

Set up in 2012, the Kuala Lumpur-based company is currently exporting these pellets to its business partner in South Korea.

Having previously been involved in the wastewater management business, Hyper Fusion International CEO C. Dinesh said the company realised that the future in waste management is in the palm oil business.

“Palm mill waste is very difficult to manage. We spoke to many mill owners about our sustainable solution to managing their waste, but they were not interested in spending money on sustainability. We are not a renewable energy company; we are looking at sustainability.

“In 2013, we found a palm oil mill owner in Klang who was willing to give us a chance, and a Korean company agreed to invest in us,”

‘We are not a renewable energy company; we are looking at sustainability,’ he says.

Hyper Fusion treats the wastewater sludge and separates the solid particles from the mix. The remaining sludge is then turned into pellets.

A palm oil mill generates four kinds of waste: empty fruit bunches, oil palm mesocarp fibre (OPMF), kernel shells (PKS) and POME – collectively known as biomass.

The company takes all the four by-products and processes them by removing up to 90% of moisture, thereby transforming them into an efficient form of fuel for the boilers.

“A mill usually has at least 10 ponds, and the ponds take up about two-thirds of the mill area.

“What we do eliminates the need for so many ponds. All we need is the first pond, and the last two ponds,” said Dinesh.

Not only was Hyper Fusion’s method better for the environment, he said, but also saved a lot of space in the mill area, which could be used for other operations such as farming.

The process treats the effluent and reduces the chemical oxygen demand (COD) and BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) by 80% in less than 10 minutes. The remainder is then sent into the last two ponds to complete the clarification process which takes about two weeks. When it is done using the traditional ponding method, the entire process usually takes between 90 and 120 days.