What we do.
Our research and innovation took an age old problem and transformed it into a solution that continues to save Oil Palm companies millions of dollars in operating costs.
Existing Palm Oil Mill Effluent treatment systems are far from perfect. Millions of dollars are being spent each year to maintain these systems. ‘Mistakes’ are costing the industry hundreds of thousands in fines to government environmental agencies and compensation to angry villagers.
Late in 2003, research into an effluent biotreatment system based on methods of composting had begun showing some promise. Breakthroughs in microbial technology gave our researchers hope that key obstacles to the system, critical to unlocking nutrient compounds in pome ponds and increasing consumption of effluent, could be resolved. Within the next few years they formulated a process that would stabilise essential nutrients in compost from effluent and empty fruit bunches.
Trials were conducted in Oil Palm Mills in Malaysia and Indonesia. Initially the analyses results were inconsistent. Laboratories were uncertain if the same MS 417 and ashing techniques applied to inorganic matter were applicable to organic matter. Over 900 analyses were done with an international collaboration of laboratories and regulatory bodies to come to an agreement that there was indeed a consistent disparity between actual available nutrients in compost that were reported in conventional testing methods. Working hand in hand with the IOPRI and cutting edge laboratories a methodology was decided upon for the accurate analyses of compost.
And the results were encouraging. NPK readings were high and C:N ratios low, proving that the process was able to unlock latent nutrients in the waste. This success moved researchers on to the next challenge of trying to consume the disproportionate amount of liquid waste, an achievement they could claim to be a zero-waste solution.
In 2007, trials were conducted in Negeri Sembilan, with the cooperation of Malaysia’s largest Oil Palm producer. With the approval of the DOE, all the effluent and empty fruit bunches produced by the mill daily was sent to a three hectare site. The concept was to be tested in the interrows of 15 month old palms. Utilising 100% of the waste, the system was able to produce compost in 45 days. The operational cycle was successfully repeated for 6 months. Zero-waste technology for the Oil Palm Industry was now a measurable reality.
The next step was to verify its commercial viability. There was a lesson to be learnt from existing mechanical composting systems which required high volumes of capital expenditure, electricity, fuel and lead time for setup.
Although technically superior to its mechanical predecessor, microbial zero-waste technology had to prove its cost effectiveness.
- The researchers were able to consistently produce compost with average nutrient compounds of 1.5% N, 0.23% P2O5 and 2% K2O with a C:N ratio of less than 35:1.
- Using industry standard fertiliser application rates, financial controllers estimated a 25% gross savings on fertiliser costs.
- They also found further compensation in transport and labour costs compared with EFB application.
- Compost was about half the volume of EFB and able to fertilise twice as much plantation area with only one application per year.
- The industry was further encouraged when composting methodology received recognition as Clean Development Mechanism compliant. This may enable mill owners to earn dollars for every cbm of Methane reduced through the process.
In 2008, with private equity support and an innovative business model, the process was introduced as the BARformula Technology - a solution to one of the industry’s biggest inconveniences and without the need for large capital investment by clients. BARformula Technology is being implemented in mills in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Take a tour of our Science Archives if you would like to learn more about what we do. If you would like to explore how we can help your company implement composting technology, get in touch with us through our contact page.