Palm Oil Engineering Bulletin No.119 (Apr - Jun 2016) p11-16
Development of Technologies for the Carbonisation of Palm Kernel Shells
Astimar, A A*, Ropandi, M M*, Nahrul Hayawin, Z*, Fazliana, A W* and Norfaizah, J*

ctivated carbon (AC) is widely used as an adsorbent in the treatment of liquids and gases. Many industries such as pharmaceutical, gold mining, petroleum, nuclear, water treatment, food and beverages frequently use activated carbon in their processing units. For the oil palm mills, the AC can be used as material for the polishing of palm oil mill effluent (POME), especially now with the introduction of more stringent regulations that demands the BOD level of less than 20 ppm on the final POME discharged into the water courses. The important stages in the manufacture of activated carbon are the carbonisation (production of charcoal) and its activation (production of activated carbon). Most of the AC industry in Malaysia are using charcoal made from coconut shell, and the charcoal is obtained from local suppliers or imported. It is only a handful which are involved in the production of AC from oil palm biomass (specifically palm kernel shells), due to shortage of charcoal supply and the claims of the low quality of charcoal. The crucial processing stage in the production of AC is the carbonisation process, and MPOB has developed four carbonisation systems, namely, i) Hollow Plinth Brick System, ii) Closed Dome System, iii) Continuous System and iv) Microwave System. Each of these system have its own specialty features. In order to achieve sustainable production of charcoal, selection of an environmental friendly and economically viable process is crucial. With the increasing demand of charcoal for new applications, especially in the bio-energy and soil remediation agent for agricultural sectors, this carbonisation sector would eventually take it to a bright future as it could end up in the future as a reliable source of income for the millers.

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