In this study, microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) was extracted from oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) cellulose which was earlier isolated from oil palm EFB fibre. In order to isolate the cellulose, the chlorination method was carried out. Then, the MCC was prepared by simultaneous ultrasonic and alkali treatment from the isolated α-cellulose. Based on mass balance calculation, the yields for MCC obtained from EFB was 44%. For fiber characterization, it is observed that the chemical composition of the hemicellulose and lignin for all samples decreased while composition for cellulose increased. The structural property of the MCC was studied by X-ray diffraction (XRD) method and the result shows that the MCC produced is a cellulose-I polymorph, with 73% crystallinity.
In this study, composites were fabricated from oil palm empty fruit bunch fiber and poly(lactic) acid by extrusion followed by injection moulding. Surface of the fiber was pre-treated by ultrasound in an alkali medium and treatment efficiency was investigated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis and Fourier transforms infrared spectrometer (FTIR). Effect of fiber treatment on composite was characterized by tensile strength (TS), tensile modulus (TM) and impact strength (IS). Furthermore, biostrong impact modifier was incorporated into the treated fiber composite to improve its impact properties. Mechanical testing showed an improvement of up to 23.5% and 33.6% respectively for TS and TM of treated fiber composite above untreated fiber composite. On the other hand incorporation of impact modifier led to enhancement of about 20% above the initial IS of the treated fiber composite.
Bio-composites derived from plant fiber and/or bioderived polymer, are likely more ecofriendly and demonstrate competitive performance with petroleum based composites. In this research, the bio phenol-formaldehyde (bio-PF) was used as a matrix and oil palm empty fruit bunch fiber (EFB) as reinforcement. The matrix was synthesized via liquefaction and condensation to enhance the combination of phenol and formaldehyde, during the process. Then, the bio-PF was mixed with different percentage of EFB (5%, 10%, 15% and 20%) and molded at 180oC. The samples that viewed under scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed an excellent wettability and interaction between EFB and matrix. Samples of 10% EFB gave the optimum properties of impact and hardness meanwhile sample 15% of EFB gave the highest reading of flexural modulus (MOE) and flexural strength (MOR). For thermal stability analysis, it was found that the weight loss and the activation energy (Ea) of the bio-composites samples were decreased as the filler content increased.
Humic acids (HA) were produced by a Trichoderma viride strain under submerged fermentation in a medium based on the oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) and the main variables of the process were optimized by using response surface methodology. A temperature of 40°C and concentrations of 50g/L EFB, 5.7g/L potato peptone and 0.11g/L (NH4)2SO4 were the optimum levels of the variables that maximize the HA production, within the physicochemical and biological limits of the process. The optimized conditions led to an experimental HA concentration of 428.4±17.5 mg/L, which validated the prediction from the statistical model of 412.0mg/L. This optimization increased about 7–fold the HA production previously reported in the literature. Additionally, the time profiles of HA production and fungal growth confirmed our previous findings that HA production preferably occurs during fungal sporulation. The present study demonstrated that T. viride successfully produced HA via the submerged fermentation of EFB and the process parameters were successfully optimized using a statistics-based response surface model. To the best of our knowledge, the present work is the first report on the optimization of HA production from EFB by a biotechnological process, whose feasibility was only pointed out in previous works.
Pretreatment of oil palm empty fruit bunch (OPEFB) with N-Methylmorpholine-N-oxide (NMMO) to enhance biogas production was investigated. The pretreatments were performed at 90 and 120ºC for 1, 3, and 5 h using three different concentrations of NMMO of 73%, 79%, and 85%. The pretreated OPEFB was subsequently anaerobically digested to produce biogas. After pretreatment, there were no significant changes of the main composition of OPEFB and the maximum total solid recovery was 92%. The amorphous phase was increased up to 78% at pretreatment condition using 85% NMMO solution for 3 h at 120oC. In general, higher concentration of NMMO and higher temperature resulted in increased amorphous form and higher biogas production. The best results of biogas production reached enhancement of methane yield of 148% compared to the untreated OPEFB and increased in digestion of 94% compared to starch as reference.