Engineering HDR Seminar Series 21, 2013: The Potential Reuse of Solid Wastes from Palm Oil Mill (empty fruit bunches and palm press fiber) through Vermicomposting

Ms Lim Pei Nie, Chemical Eng postgraduate student

Date: 2013-04-25
Time: 14:00 to 15:00
Venue: Engineering Meeting Room 2, 5-4-03


Oil palm plantations generate a large quantity of by-product, such as empty fruit bunches and palm press fibre. These by-products are relatively hard to be decomposed in nature local condition. Hence, managing of palm oil solid wastes in a sustainable way is one of the challenges faced in Malaysia. One of the sustainable methods that could be used to transform palm oil solid wastes into value added product is vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is a stabilization process of organic materials (usually wastes) through the joint action of earthworms and microorganisms. The on-going research shows that vermicomposting of these by- product would be able to provide some useful nutrients for crop growth. In the present study, palm oil solid wastes (empty fruit bunches and palm press fibre) were vermicomposted in 12 weeksys using earthworm species Eudrilus eugeniae. The growth of earthworm, electrical conductivity, pH, moisture content and available nutrients (TKN, TC, Ca, K, Mg, P) were studied in the preliminary stage. Among all the treatments investigated, the treatments of E2:D1 and P2:D1 showed superior quality vermicompost. Enzyme activities of vermicomposting of the treatments of E2:D1 and P2:D1 were carried out. Results showed that increase of all enzyme activities were observed initially followed by a decrease of enzyme activities.  The decrease of enzyme activities was due to the disappearance of easily decomposable organic compounds, indicating the stabilization of the organic wastes. The future research will involve the study of cellulosic depletion during vermicomposting, nitrate to ammonium ratio to further justify the maturation of vermicomposts, humic and fulvic acids in vermicomposts as well as plant growth study on corn (Zea Mays L.) and marigold (Tagetes erecta).

About the Speaker

Ms Lim Pei Nie graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering with Honours) degree from Monash University Sunway Campus in 2010. She joined Monash University in 2011 for postgraduate studies under the supervision of Dr. Wu Ta Yeong and Dr. Charles Clarke. Her research focus is on biotransformation of palm oil solid wastes (empty fruit bunches and palm press fibre) into valuable product, namely vermicompost. The present study provides a sound basis to demonstrate that vermicomposting can be regarded as a green technology to convert empty fruit bunches and palm press fibre into organic fertilizer.