Palm Empty Fruit Bunch Waste Utilization

Palm Empty Fruit Bunch Waste Utilization

Background Expand

Palm oil is major export of many tropical countries, and Nigeria is no exception. The palm fruit is harvested, and the oil is extracted. The waste biomass is the “empty fruit bunch (EFB)”. Much of this biomass is allowed to rot, as it has little economic value.

Impact Expand

This project raises the question of how one creates a more sustainable approach to managing this waste and extracting value from it. The EFB would be collected and used as fuel in a biomass to energy plant. The products would be electricity and thermal heat (possibly as steam, possibly as hot oil), as well as an inorganic ash. The ash contains calcium, magnesium, phosphate and potassium, from which low-cost alkali solutions could be produced, along with mineral fertilizers. 

Research Problem Addressed Expand

The technologies for this project are well known, and are “”off-the-shelf”. The key unknown is the appropriate scale and location. How does one identify the logical freight radius for getting EFB to the plant, and where would the plant be sited, so that both the electricity and the thermal heat can be used. The key output is an evaluation of the options available for converting EFB to products, such that there is a workable business model for a local circular economy in Nigeria. 

Supervisors Expand
  • Dr. Graeme Norval, University of Toronto 
  • Dr. David Obada, Ahmadu Bello University 
Students Expand
  • Kekung Mkpe-Ojong, MASc Ahmadu Bello University 
  • Tigran Levonyan, M.Eng, University of Toronto

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