Indonesia is one of world largest crude palm oil (CPO) exporters. Until year 2015, Indonesia has produced 33 million tons and this will increase with the extension of palm oil farming. It is predicted in years 2040-2050 CPO production in Indonesia will reach 65 million tons per year.
CPO has a central role to support human lives. Derivatives of the compound are used in industry such as food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and renewable energy.
Quality of CPO is determined by parameters, including free fatty acid (FFA), which needs to be between 2-5 percent. High FFA level may degrade the CPO.
Ivone Marselina Nugraha, said on Wednesday (8/6) at UGM that in the palm oil processing industry, the FFA level in CPO has been minimised using vacuum destilation that produces CPO with the FFA level below 2 percent. But the long packaging and shipping make the FFA in the CPO go up to over 5 percent, hence reducing the sale price of CPO.
Along with fellow students for Chemical Engineering department (Afrizal Luthfi Anggara, Sayoga Arifgalih H., Asdi Restana, and Atika Noor R.), Ivone sought a breakthrough to this condition to reduce the FFA level before and after shipping.
They did a research using resin technology under the guidance of supervisor, Sang Kompiang Wirawan, S.T., M.T, Ph.D. Reducing the level of FFA in the CPO can be done using adsorbent. One of adsorbent types is resin that is based on ion exchanger under special treatment.
“Generally, using resin as adsorbent to increase the quality of CPO is energy- efficient and eco-friendly as this does not require heating while the resin is reusable,” she said.
Their research showed that use of ion exchanger-based resin can increase the quality of CPO. The resin can decrease the FFA level down to 1.5 %, which is over the target of 2% FFA.
Ivone added the resin can be used continuously. If already saturated, a regeneration may be conducted and the result is not far from the initial resin in adsorbing the FFA.
"Further research and scale-up process will make this method a solution to the increase of CPO quality in terms of FFA level reduction in Indonesia’s palm oil industry, before and and after shipping at ports for exports,” she said.