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Liquid Fuels From Biomass In The Era Of Bioeconomy

Biomass solid fuels, especially wood pellets, have gained great attention so that their use continues to increase, as a means of lowering the temperature of the earth. The estimated use of world wood pellets will reach 50 million tonnes / year by2024 while Korea and Japan alone will reach 20 million tonnes / year in the next 3-4 years. Why is the biomass-fuel solid getting so much attention? This is due to the large coal-fired power plants that have been able to gradually use the wood pellets, even new plants are also built specifically using wood pellets or other biomass fuels such as palm kernel shells or wood chips. What about liquid fuels from biomass? Liquid fuel has a large portion as a vehicle fuel or industry, both derived from fossil and from biomass. Bioenergy (energy from biomass which includes solid, liquid and gas) currently accounts for about 10% of total global energy use, or equivalent about 53 EJ / year (about 6 minutes of solar radiation to the earth). Petroleum consumption accounts for one third of global energy followed by coal and natural gas. Bioenergy supplies the most energy compared to non-fossil energy sources, such as the table below. Liquid fuels from the bioenergy group alone reach about 6% or 3 EJ / year (radiant solar energy to the earth for half a minute). The liquid fuel is mainly used in the transportation sector. Liquid fuels from biomass are vegetable oils (fatty acids), biomethanol, bioethanol, biodiesel and biooil. Among them are bioethanol and biodiesel most attention, as most of the good engines and vehicles use the fuel.
Source : Biomass in the energy industry, BP & Energy Biosciences Institute


Brazil and the United States are the two major producing countries of liquid fuels from biomass in the form of bioethanol from sugarcane and corn. Brazil'ssugarcane plantation area of ​​9 million hectares and corn farming in America 39 million hectares. In addition to the production of fuel, sugarcane and corn partially processed into food products. Indonesia's largest producer of palm oil or CPO with production of 23 million tons / year with a current land area of ​​9 million hectares and is still growing. CPO in addition to biodiesel raw material, can also be as direct fuel, is also an important edible oil. Currently we are witnessing many liquid fuel stations in Indonesia selling Bio-Solar or B-20 for diesel-engined fuel vehicles with 80% petroleum diesel and 20% biodiesel from CPO. For the production of liquid fuels from biomass in Indonesia other than palm  oil trees proclaimed among others with sugar cane, cassava, shorghum, and jatropha. In general, the production of liquid fuels from biomass in Indonesia has not been encouraging. Even jatropha curcas have failed as biodiesel feedstock because the price is still expensive, so its biodiesel products can not compete with diesel oil from petroleum, plus jatropha oil is not a food product. It still needs a lot of effort to achieve the expected conditions in this sector. Moreover, the lands needed for agriculture of the above commodities generally require fertile soils and high maintenance costs. This is in contrast to the energy plantations of theleguminoceae plant for the production of wood pellets that can survive on marginal, critical and abandoned land.
The Qur'an also discusses renewable energy from this biomass, ie from trees in QS Yaasiin: 80, QS Al Waqi'ah: 71-72, and QS An Nuur: 35. In surah Yassiin and Al Waqi'ah the indication of such energy source from the tree, while in the surah An Nuur the indication of the fruit. Details of renewable energy development based on the Qur'an in more detail can be read here. Based on the above information that almost all of the liquid fuel from the biomass turns out to be also food for humans. So how should we respond to such conditions? Moreover, there has been Tortilla riot in Mexico in 2007 ago. The riot occurred because the United States cultivate corn to bio-ethanol fuel, while Mexico as a neighboring country is dependent imports of corn from America as food so that as a result there was food crisis. The two hadiths of Prophet Muhammad became the solution and guide for food and energy issues, for us as followers:

From Aisha she said: "Once the family of Abu Bakr (his father) sent (soup) goat legs to us, then I did not eat, and he (Prophet Muhammad SAW) also did not eat because we have no lights. If  we have some oil at that time, of course we are prioritized to be eaten. " (HR Ahmad).

Another story from Abu Hurairah: "There are times when for months gone by, but the houses of the Messenger of Allah do not have a single day of light, nor the kitchen nor smoke, if there is any oil to use for food."

Finally, with the guidance of the Qur'an and the example of the life of Prophet Muhammad SAW, uswatun hasanah, the people should be able to overcome food and energy conflicts, as well as develop innovative ability to explore the sources of renewable energy.


Search for cheap and abundant energy sources continue to be done to race down theearth's temperature. Liquid waste from CPO factories which still contain oil despite its high free fatty acid (FFA) of up to 60%, provided the moisture content and its impurities (M & I) is less than 2%, or the total oil is at least 98% sought by many countries for biodiesel production. Oil from CPO factory waste that was originally waste or so-called dirty oil or PAO (Palm Acid Oil) has now become a selling commodity for biodiesel raw materials. It basically indeed that all fatty acids can be processed or converted into biodiesel. Indonesia's potential for PAO is also very big considering about 600 CPO factories in Indonesia and not conflict with human food. PAO processing into cheap biodiesel so that it can be used as a power plant or vehicle fuel or industrial machineries in the country should also be a concern and can be implemented in not too distant future. Other PAO utilization can be as direct fuel for various heaters. Processing of empty palm bunches (EFB) and palm trunks into EFB pellets and OPT pellets has a lot of problems because of its very wet raw materials, resulting in expensive drying costs. The use of PAO can be one solution to the problem.

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