Currently, there are a number of parties who have utilized the palm kernel shells for electricity production and boilers of some industries that are estimated to be less than 10% of the total produced palm shells. Some converting technologies into heat and electricity are used for processing such palm kernel shells. Combustion and gasification are technologies commonly used to convert or extract palm kernel shells into heat and electricity. Combustion technology in the furnace then combined ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) and Stirling engine to convert it into electricity. While the gas from gasification is then used as fuel in gas engine to generate electricity. Are there any other options for processing the palm kernel shell so that it has bigger added value or more profitable?
Palm kernel shells are not suitable for biogas production because the lignoselulose material or rich lignin content material making it difficult to biologically decompose. The choice is pyrolysis or thermal decomposition with absence of oxygen. Pyrolysis is a technology that can to produce charcoal, biooil, pyro acid and syngas. This is what makes it possible for multipurpose production. Palm kernel shells such as rice husks, sawdust and the like are bulk materials also so will be suitable for continuous pyrolysis. How come? The answer is because there are several options for using the continuous pyrolysis:
1. Production of electricity and charcoal
2. Production of electricity and activated charcoal
3. Production of electricity and charcoal briquettes
4. Production of charcoal and bio-chemicals
5. Production of charcoal and biofuel
6. Production of Charcoal and heat
At the production of electricity and charcoal, the process of excess syngas is used for electricity production, and charcoal is also produced as a solid product of pyrolysis. The charcoal can also be made briquette so it will be efficient during transportation and its use. As for the production of electricity and activated carbon, then excess syngas is used for the process of activation of the charcoal produced, with a more detailed explanation can be read here. In addition to charcoal, bio-chemicals such as acetic acid, methanol and phenol can also be produced by processing further byproducts namely pyro acid and syngas. Biofuels namely, biooil and syngas can also be additional products besides charcoal. Syngas can also be packed in a tube for ease of distribution and usage. Meanwhile, if syngas and biooil are burned it will generate heat, so if the business of charcoal production in combination with agriculture such as the use of green house or also farms that require a warm certain temperature the continuous pyrolysis unit becomes also very effective to be used.
Charcoal production from palm kernel shells can also be a solution to the high export tax of palm kernel shells. By processing it into finished product then the tax should be decreased even eliminated because there has been industrialization which also absorb labor and encourage economic growth. In private power producers or IPP (Independent Power Producer), the additional product namely of charcoal will provide an increase business revenue, so that their business becomes more attractive business. In addition to charcoal production, if you want the production of high quality solid fuel (solid biomass fuel) namely by upgrading or processing it with torrefaction, can be done also with pyrolysis technology.