Green Solution for Empty Fruit Bunch Treatment – Making Charcoal

What is EFB?

EFB refers to the part of the ear of the oil palm tree that has not developed into a solid seed, also known as the empty fruit bunch. In some tropical countries, notably Malaysia, Indonesia and Nigeria, oil palm trees are mainly used to produce palm oil. Their fruit grows on the tree in clusters, and each cluster has more than 2,000 palm fruits. The outer layer of palm fruit is pulp, which contains 45% to 50% oil. There is a hard brown core inside, and there are kernels in the core. The pulp can be used to produce skin oil, and the palm kernel can be used to produce palm kernel oil. Empty fruit bunches, however, are of no value for palm oil production because there is no oil to extract from them. Therefore, how to dispose of EFBs in an environmentally friendly manner becomes a thorny issue.

How to Process EFB Using a Charcoal Making Machine

What Issues are Found in Current EFB Treatment?

Space occupied by EFB

High Space Occupancy

With the considerable amount of EFB generated daily, palm oil factories struggle to manage waste effectively. Finding an adequate space for proper disposal and treatment poses a constant challenge. EFB accounts for about 8% of palm fruit bunches. Additionally, the palm oil industry produces 1.07 tonnes of EFB for every tonne of palm oil produced. Large palm factories can generate 100-200 tons of EFB waste per day. Consequently, managing such a substantial volume of waste becomes a challenging task.

EFB as fuel

Low Combustion Efficiency

Another solution for EFB processing is to use it as fuel. Pelletized EFB is usually used as fuel in palm oil mills for power generation or boiler plants. However, palm oil mills themselves cannot handle all the EFB produced and can only utilize around 20% of it. In addition, the high ash content of EFB can seriously damage the combustion system, resulting in lower combustion efficiency and increased maintenance costs. Therefore, if the intention is to sell EFB as a fuel, its combustion performance will not satisfy the buyer.

EFB as compost

Poor Composting Effect

Composting and fermentation using EFB seems to be a sustainable method, but it will cause serious environmental pollution. Nitrogen compounds from the composting process can contribute to air pollution. Additionally, methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is produced during composting, especially in the absence of oxygen. These can pose a threat to the surrounding ecosystem. Considering the above issues, the government encourages greener and more environmentally friendly methods of managing EFB waste.

Why Choose Charcoal Production Process EFB?

As a by-product of palm oil extraction, EFB poses a challenge due to its large volume and lack of processing solutions. However, the wheels of innovation are already turning. Through charcoal production, this excess residue is converted into a green energy source called EFB charcoal. By harnessing the technology of charcoal production, palm oil mills can move to a greener footprint, optimize resource use and foster a greener future. Choosing the charcoal production process for oil palm empty fruit bunch waste has several advantages, especially when considering the environmental and sustainability aspects. Here’s an overview of the process and its benefits:

Overview of Charcoal Making Process

  1. Material Preparation: Pre-process biomass waste (such as oil palm empty fruit bunch) by removing impurities and large chunks. It is best to pelletize EFB first.
  2. Loading and Preheating: Load the pre-processed EFB into the charcoal production machine. Preheat the furnace using a preheating device to prepare it for the carbonization process.
  3. Carbonization: The empty fruit bunch undergoes carbonization in a sealed, low-oxygen environment. By controlling the temperature and oxygen supply, the biomass breaks down into charcoal. During this process, organic materials are released as gases, while carbon-rich residue forms charcoal.
  4. Cooling and Collection: The carbonized charcoal is cooled within the equipment and then collected.
  5. Sorting and Packaging: The collected charcoal goes through sorting to remove impurities and particles that don’t meet the specifications. Subsequently, the charcoal is packaged and stored, ready for the market.

steps of charcoal production process

Advantages of Charcoal Making Machine Handling EFB

Investing in a charcoal making machine presents numerous benefits in dealing with EFB waste. There are several advantages to using the machine to process empty fruit bunches:

  1. Resource Reutilization: This machine can convert empty fruit bunches into charcoal. It can serve as a source of renewable energy, replacing part of traditional non-renewable energy sources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. This helps reduce dependence on finite natural resources.
  2. Environmentally Friendly: The process of carbonization usually occurs in a relatively low-oxygen environment, which reduces the production of harmful gases like tar and nitrogen oxides. Compared to the direct burning of empty fruit bunches, using this machine can decrease air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Energy Production: EFB charcoal can be used as an energy source for heating, cooking, and power generation. This energy source is renewable and can help decrease the demand for traditional fossil fuels, thereby reducing carbon emissions.
  4. Waste Management: Large quantities of empty fruit bunches often constitute agricultural waste, which, if not properly managed, can lead to environmental issues like odors and the spread of pests and diseases. Using charcoal production technology can effectively convert these waste materials into useful products while reducing waste accumulation and negative impacts.
  5. Economic Benefits: Operating charcoal-making machines can provide employment opportunities in rural areas and create a market for wood charcoal and biomass charcoal. These products can be sold in the energy market, bringing economic benefits to rural communities.

Applications of EFB Charcoal

EFB Charcoal Fuel

Higher Calorific Value Fuel

The calorific value of EFB charcoal jumps significantly compared to its virgin EFB biomass. The carbonization process gives EFB charcoal a significantly increased energy content. This higher energy density ensures a more powerful and long-lasting burn. Therefore, in the field of energy generation, the enhanced calorific value of EFB charcoal brings real benefits. Besides, using EFB charcoal as an industrial fuel can not only improve energy output but also reduce carbon emissions. This is consistent with global environmental goals.

EFB Charcoal Soil Conditioner

Cleaner Soil Conditioner

EFB charcoal is not only limited to energy applications, but also a great boon for agriculture. As a soil conditioner, it brings about a fundamental change in improving soil quality and crop yields. The porous structure of the charcoal acts as a reservoir, storing water for the plant roots and releasing it gradually to the plants. In addition, the affinity of EFB charcoal to nutrients improves soil fertility. As EFB charcoal gradually breaks down, it infuses the soil with organic matter, enhancing microbial activity and long-term soil health.

Future of EFB Charcoal Production – Opportunities and Challenges Coexist


Broad Raw Material Market

The abundant availability of EFB waste from the palm oil industry ensures a consistent and broad raw material market for charcoal production. As long as palm oil mills continue their operations, there will be a steady supply of EFB for conversion into charcoal.

Opportunities to Enter the Carbon Credit Market

With increasing concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, carbon credits have gained prominence as a means to promote sustainable practices. Engaging in EFB charcoal production opens the door to potential carbon credits, providing economic incentives for environmentally responsible businesses.


How to Increase the Capacity of Charcoal Production?

To meet the growing demand for EFB charcoal, businesses must invest in scalable and efficient charcoal production machinery. Enhancing the processing capacity will not only boost production but also contribute to reducing EFB waste and its environmental impact.

Can Investing in Charcoal Production Machine be Profitable?

While investing in charcoal production machinery requires initial capital, it can lead to long-term profitability and a positive impact on the environment. The utilization of EFB waste, along with the potential revenue from selling charcoal and carbon credits, makes it a viable and profitable venture.

Seize Opportunities in Waste Management – Start EFB Charcoal Production Project

In conclusion, charcoal production offers a green and sustainable solution for EFB treatment, effectively addressing the issues associated with empty fruit bunch waste. By adopting this method, palm oil mills can reduce their environmental footprint, optimize resource utilization, and contribute to a more eco-friendly future. The applications of EFB charcoal in fuel and soil conditioning further highlight its versatility and potential in various industries. Embracing the opportunities and overcoming the challenges in EFB charcoal production can pave the way for a greener, more sustainable future.

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