Incredible Palm Oil! Its UCO Used To Produce Biodiesel

Jakarta – The cooking oil from palm oil has been very popular in the daily life of Indonesians. After being used to fry foods it becomes what is called the used cooking oil (UCO).

Based on the study conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the potential of UCO in Indonesia can reach 1.64 billion liters per year.

Considering its potential peril and big volume, the UCO needs special treatment to prevent it being reused as low quality and medically unsafe cooking oil that is locally known as “minyak curah”. “The Indonesian government should set up a system of collecting the UCO at the national and regional levels,” the ICCT said in its report as quoted by Palm Oil Indonesia in its website recently.

Based on a research conducted by the National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TNP2K) and Traction Energy Asia, the total consumption of cooking oil from palm oil reached 16.2 million kiloliters in 2019 in Indonesia. Of the total consumption, around 6.46 – 9.72 million kiloliters would become UCO.  But only around 3.0 million kiloliters of the UCO can be collected. It is a very regrettable fact as the waste is potential to be processed into a number of high value products, including the environmentally friendly biodiesel as an alternative of renewable energy sources.

Palm Oil Indonesia reported in its website that the UCO has a quite high content of palmitic acid and oleic with the percentage of 32–47 percent and 38–56 percent respectively. The two contents make the UCO potential as feedstock of biodiesel by changing it into ester through the process of esterification.

This is no bragging at all as the UCO has been used as the raw material to produce biodiesel in developed countries like Japan, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. Even in the European Union (EU), the UCO has been the second largest feedstock (after rapeseed) used in the biodiesel industry. Its use as biodiesel raw material in EU has been significantly rising from 690,000 tons in 2011 to 2.79 million tons in 2020.

In Indonesia, there have been several private companies which have produced biodiesel from UCO. They are, among others, Yayasan Lengis Hijau, GenOil, Artha Metro Oil, and a number of multinational companies, such as Cargill, Adaro, Aqua, and Unilever.

“Those companies have shown that the business of producing biodiesel from UCO is quite promising. The market index price (HIP) of UCO as the raw material of biodiesel is cheaper than the HIP of palm oil, enabling producers to get bigger profit from the use of UCO as the raw material to produce biodiesel,” the Palm Oil Indonesia reported.

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