Palm Oil Engineering Bulletin No.141 (Sept - Dec 2022) p10-16
Cellulose Recovery and Characterisation from Oil Palm Biomass
Stasha Eleanor Rosland Abel*; Soh Kheang Loh; Noorshamsiana Abdul Wahab and Nur Aina Azizi*

Despite its exceptional economic and social prosperity, the palm oil industry has been in the limelight, with many active endeavors on resource recovery. Oil palm biomass, in mass production relative to oil palm cultivation, has been mostly underutilised at current practice, which contributes to environmental conflicts. Only a small proportion i.e. oil palm empty fruit bunch (OPEFB), oil palm frond (OPF) and oil palm trunk (OPT) are utilised in-house, either for mulching or as a boiler fuel. These biomasses comprise complex lignocellulosic structures of cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose that can be separated for value addition, e.g. as bio-composites, textiles, pulp and paper, etc. In this study, celluloses from OPEFB, OPF, OPT were recovered via American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) method, and characterised to understand their morphological, functional, physicochemical and surface properties via scanning electron microscope (SEM), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Cellulose recovery was the highest for OPT at 61.21 ± 0.21 wt.% compared to OPF (59.86 ± 2.46 wt.%) and OPEFB (57.18 ± 1.88 wt.%). The SEM images of all the celluloses depicted smoother surface and compact structure, indicating successful removal of extractives. The absence of FTIR adsorption peaks at 1248 cm–1, 1375 cm–1 and 1735 cm–1 representing lignin, wax and hemicellulose, confirmed that celluloses were extracted. While cellulose from OPT showed more significant moisture (8.30 ± 0.1 wt.%) and ash (0.49 ± 0.13 wt.%) content, those of OPEFB, higher volatile matter (83.07 ± 0.11 wt.%) and OPF, higher fixed carbon (11.34 ± 0.42 wt.%). The carbon composition of OPEFB-cellulose (41.29 ± 0.47 wt.%) was slightly higher than those of OPF (41.09 ± 0.41 wt.%) and OPT (40.42 ± 0.22 wt.%). The TGA profile revealed that OPEFB-cellulose was more thermally stable with maximal decomposition rate recorded at 357.9°C with a single degradation curve. This indicates high purity of cellulose. In conclusion, cellulose properties vary amongst the different biomasses, due to nature of feedstock and, thus, may be indicative of a wide range of potential applications. These findings provide a fundamental understanding of cellulose for future product development.


Author information:
*Malaysian Palm Oil Board, 6 Persiaran Institusi, Bandar Baru Bangi, 43000 Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia. **Faculty of Applied Sciences, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Campus Arau, 02600 Arau, Perlis, Malaysia. E-mail: