Biofuel Innovation in Indonesia

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In order to anticipate the future energy scarcity, renewable energy development programs are actively carried out by many, including the government and researchers. Unfortunately, up until now, renewable energy in Indonesia has not yet become the main option for most people in fulfilling their energy needs. Indonesia people still consider fossil energy as the first go-to option when it comes to energy sources. In reality, biofuel is actually quite promising because it can reduce gas emissions, increase energy sustainability and it is easy to find the raw material around our everyday life, such as peanut shells.

Who would have thought that peanut shells could turn into a renewable energy source? This innovation was proven by 4 UGM students who managed to find potential alternative energy sources while conducting research at the Laboratorium Kimia Fakultas MIPA. Peanut shells have higher cellulose compounds than other wastes, such as corn cobs, straw, sengon sawdust and bagasse. Cellulose compounds contained in peanut shells can reach 63.5% which has enough potential to be used as bioethanol, as an alternative energy source.

In the process of making bioethanol, peanut shells are ground into flour. The lignin contained in peanuts is cleaned with NaOH solution to speed up the hydrolysis reaction. Peanut shells that have been cleaned then go through an enzymatic hydrolysis process to produce glucose compounds. This glucose compound will be fermented by microorganisms to produce bioethanol. During this research, they found that 10 gram of dried peanut shells were able to produce 4 ml of bioethanol.

Based on Badan Pusat Statistik’s data, the average production of peanuts in Indonesia is approximately 700,000 tons per year. According to the students’ calculation, if the weight of dry peanut shells is around 12%-13% of the total mass, then there will be around 90,000 tons that can be used as bioethanol which can produce about 36 million liters of bioethanol annually. Energy conversion using a biofuel generator requires about 3.5 liters of fuel/kWh and with an average normal electricity usage of 124 kWh/house, the amount of ethanol produced from peanut shells, if it’s carried out optimally, could light up about 6,000 homes every year.