Palm Gasoline Quality Exceeds Fossil-Based Pertamax TURBO

JAKARTA – After the success of producing biodiesel 30 percent (B30) with the mixture of 30 percent fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) from crude palm oil (CPO), Indonesia has now seen a new success of producing palm gasoline, a mixture of palm oil and fossil-derived gasoline which is locally called “bensa” (bensin sawit or palm gasoline).

Melia Laniwati Gunawan of the chemical reaction and catalyst technology expert group of the industrial engineering faculty of Bandung Institute of Technology (FTI ITB) said recently that the quality of palm gasoline is higher than fossil fuel type of Pertamax as it has research octane number (RON) at 105-112. “It’s very high compared to Pertamax Turbo which only has RON at 98,” she said.

The octane number (ON) is the measure of the knock resistance of gasoline and describes the behavior of the fuel in the engine during combustion. The higher the RON the better the quality of the fuel as it has better knock resistance. The gasoline of high RON is suitable for today’s vehicles which have high compression. Having the RON of 105-112 means the palm gasoline is at the same class or even higher than that of the Pertamax Racing.

The palm gasoline or “bensa” can be blended with the fossil-derived gasoline. “If blended with the fossil gasoline with RON 70-80, it will result in palm gasoline of RON 93,” Melia said.

She noted that gasoline with RON 93 is still higher than Pertamax produced by Pertamina, which has RON 92. “The Bensa with RON of 105 – 112 is the result of cooperation between the catalyst engineering center of Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and the oil palm plantation fund management board (BPDPKS),” she added.

According to her, the bensa test was conducted on 11 January 2022 at the workshop of PT Pura Engineering, Kudus, Central Java. The test, which was conducted on motorcycles and cars, shows its good performance as an energy source for the vehicles.

Based on the test success, there has been a plan in the future to optimize its production capacity and reactor and develop its detailed engineering design (DED). “After that, large scale production units with the use of catalyst from ITB can be developed later,” she said.

Melia hopes that the production units of bensa can be developed in the smallholders’ oil palm plantations. “That way we can help the smallholders in getting their energy need, and the government and Pertamina in providing the fuel to the remote areas,” she said. (*)