Palm Oil Biomass

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Date Submitted: 09/24/2012 09:25 AM

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The palm oil industry is an important component of the national economy and especially the agriculture sector. Oil palm currently accounts for 58% of the total cultivated land in Malaysia. Malaysia exports more than 90% of its palm oil products, with some level of processing for edible and non-edible purposes.

The palm oil industry is now at the stage of seeking more value-added products not only from the oil and kernel but also its biomass. In the case of biomass, there is ample opportunity to convert the 13.2 million tonnes (dry weight) of biomass per year available in the oil palm sector into pulp and paper, particleboard, medium density fibre board, furniture etc. (Kamaruddin et al., 1997).

This will be facilitated by the aggressive replanting programme that has been initiated where about 200 000 ha of palm trees exceeding 25 years are expected to be replanted with new planting materials by mid 2002.

Research and Development (R&D) are actively continuing developing planting materials with specific traits such as high oleic palm oil to meet the demands of certain markets.

Although labour supply is a problem, the advancement in mechanization has somewhat reduced the dependence on labour, which is increasingly sourced from overseas. In addition, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) is on the threshold of a breakthrough in developing a suitable machine to harvest oil palm - the one aspect of oil palm production that has been most difficult to mechanize[1].

It is reported that agricultural sector in Malaysia contributed about 11 percent to Gross National Income (GNI) where the largest contributor coming from the palm oil sector with about 8 percent or almost RM50 billion. Correspondingly, the palm oil sector is the largest amount of biomass producer, estimated at 80 million dry tonnes in 2010 and expected to increase to 100 million dry tonnes...