Biomass a potential new fuel for RI
Biomass is one of the most suitable alternative energy sources for Indonesia because of the large amount of agricultural residue the country produces, a scientist says.
Herri Susanto from the Bandung Institute of Technology, recently granted a Tanoto Foundation award for his research on biomass fuel, said biomass-based energy is cheap to produce and environmentally friendly.
“Biomass will save [us from] oil consumption. And, biomass is widely available in the country,” Herri told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Biomass has gained global favor due to its low investment and maintenance costs, he said.
In three years of research beginning in 2007, Herri improved biomass gasification technology that produces electricity, fuel and heat.
Herri developed a catalytic cracking technology in order to minimize biomass tar levels, making biomass a more environmentally friendly energy source.
He found in his research that about 4 to 8 kilograms of biomass can produce one liter of liquid fuel, while 1.2 to 3 kilograms of biomass can generate one kilowatt per hour (kWh) of electricity.
The liquid fuel is cheaper than non-renewable energy sources such as solar energy.
“Indonesia should produce more biomass because 40 percent of the country’s villages do not have electricity,” said Herri.
He said the country would not face supply problems because our country produces large amounts of agricultural residue such as rice husks, corn cobs, coffee husks, peanut husks, coconut shells and oil palm solid waste.
Herri also developed biomass gasification units to be used as alternative rural energy sources.
A gas-fired power unit in an oil palm plantation in Pelaihari in Tanah Laut regency, South Kalimantan, uses corn cobs to generate electricity for 120 households living on the plantation.
Two gas-fired units using oil palm solid waste will soon be installed in Indragiri Hulu and Pelalawan regencies in Riau province. CV Sejahtera, a chicken feed home industry in Suryalaya, Tasikmalaya regency, West Java, will also begin using a biomass gasification unit.
Herri said more research was needed to produce a synthetic gas that doesn’t use oxygen as a gasifying agent and to develop clean-burning energy.
Improved gasification technology would contribute positively to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, Tanoto Foundation program director Ratih Loekito said. “This research will support our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Ratih said. (ebf)