Veolia’s Pomethane technology offers affordable, greener solution to treat palm oil mills effluents

Pomethane®, developed by Veolia’s subsidiary Biothane, is a new, reliable cost-effective solution for more environmentally friendly palm oil production and is helping leading producers reduce manufacturing impacts, save money and energy.

Veolia’s Pomethane® technology has already been implemented by several Southeast Asian companies, including Felda, Malaysia’s largest crude palm oil producer. Pomethane®’s official launch was announced this week during a presentation by Lars HJORTH, Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, Wastewater Business Development Manager, South East Asia Design & Build Projects Group, at the industry’s 2012 POMREQ* conference in Malaysia.

Pomethane® represents a best practice application for managing palm oil industrial waste through an anaerobic thermophilic digestion process. Methane captured from manufacturing waste materials is converted to biogas and electricity and/or steam and hot water. In addition to increasing the diversity and security of the plant’s electricity supply, the process enables dramatically improved environmental performance, including reduced emissions of greenhouse gases, lower risks of river and soil pollution and improved land, forest and ecosystem conservation.

In addition to highlighting the environmental and energy benefits, HJORTH said that value creation is a major factor why anaerobic digestion processes like Pomethane® have the potential to transform palm oil manufacturing practices. “One obstacle to adoption of cleaner solutions to treating Palm Oil Mill Effluents (POME) has been an absence of compelling economic arguments,” he said. “Pomethane® enables plants to recover the energy from POME to power their mill production and staff quarters, with some plants able to produce enough gas to become energy self-reliant or even generate revenue through the sale of excess electricity back to the grid.”

Additional value can be created from recycling treated POME as liquid fertilizer that can be used directly in the plantation. Solid/fiber fertilized biomass can also be recovered for use in the plantation or for sale on the market.

Veolia also has demonstrated that Pomethane® can be combined with an aerobic polishing plant to achieve a final effluent discharge of BOD < 20ppm. This opens up additional value creation potential through the re-use of water for irrigation and the application of wastewater sludge as fertilizer.

At Felda’s 60-ton Serting Hilir Palm Oil Mill, the 1.2MW generated per hour supplies energy to both the plant’s own production facility and the grid of the local energy provider. The highly efficient treatment process yields a level of COD removal exceeding 90% and enables a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Click here to download the case study.

* National Seminar on Palm Oil Milling, Refining, Environment and Quality

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