UKM Conducts the Most Comprehensive Research on Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) Treatment

By Nadia Sapuan and Asmahanim Amir
Pictures by Abd Raai Osman

BANGI, 17 March 2017 – Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), through its Carbon Capture Laboratory, is the first university to carry out the most comprehensive research on palm oil’s sewage, said Manager of UKM- YSD Chair for Sustainable Development: Zero Waste Technology, Prof Ir Dr Mohd Sobri Takriff.

“In Malaysia, we produce 20 million tonnes of palm oil, yearly, which will result in about 80 million tonnes of sewage.

“This is not a small amount and if not properly controlled, will affect our environment,” said Prof Ir Dr Mohd Sobri at the launch of Carbon Capture Laboratory Chair for Sustainable Development: Zero Waste Technology, recently.

He said, the laboratory carries out the treatment of oil palm effluent waste and capture carbon dioxide using natural algae that has been isolated and purified water.

“Among the research carried out in this laboratory are capturing carbon dioxide using algae, isolation and purification of natural microalgae aimed at increasing the capture of carbon dioxide and the use of biomass from microalgae to produce high quality products,” he explained.

He added that a pilot plant was built at a palm oil mill owned by Sime Darby in Bestari Jaya which will be used to treat sewage of the palm oil.

Meanwhile, YSD Governing Council Member, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Mohd Zahid Noordin said Prof Dr Mohd Sobri will be assisted by a post-doctoral fellow, two engineers from Sime Darby Plantation Research, six PhD students, two Masters and some Undergraduate students, in this project.

“They are now actively studying the use of algae to treat sewage from Palm oil mill or better known as palm oil mill effluent (POME), with carbon dioxide seclusion.

“If this research is successful, it could change the way the palm oil industry handles effluent and be more efficient,” he explained.

At the ceremony, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Mohd Zahid also launched three books written by UKM scientists at the Institute of Climate Change, namely Kepelbagaian Biologi Ekosistem Kelapa Sawit Versi Bahasa Inggeris, Makmal Perubahan Iklim and Impak Kenaikan Aras Laut di Kawasan Rendah Persisiran Pantai Batu Pahat, Johor.

Also present at the ceremony was UKM Vice Chancellor, Prof Dato’ Seri Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali and Climate Change UKM-YSD Chair recipient, Prof Dato’ Dr Sharifah Mastura Syed Abdullah.