A blog from University of Borås

Friday, June 21, 2013

Is Palm Oil a sustainable product?

As we heard in the news, it is difficult to breath in Singapore now. It is because of people burn forests in Sumatra (an Indonesian island) and wind takes the smoke to Singapore and Malaysia. But why?

It is now decades that Palm oil industries has grown and is still growing well in Malaysia and Indonesia in several islands such as Borneo (Kalimantan) and Sumatra that were covered by forest before. The oil is used as food, and in industries and also to produce biodiesel. The market is well established and it has created a great job markets for the people who live in those areas.

The companies look for new plantation areas, which goes sometimes illegal and jeopardize the forests and its wild lives, and creates environmental problems such as this one now in Singapore and Malaysia. However, we should remember that most of the owners of the palm oil companies are from Singapore and Malaysia!!
I think the best solution to these problems are to create a strong public debates and monitoring by independent media. People in those area and also the rest of the world should promote long-term sustainable plantations and palm oil production, in which all the aspects should be considered.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

New textile digesters for biogas from households wastes

Organic or biological or compostable wastes (food, vegetables, etc.) is a major fraction of household wastes. On the other hand, households need energy or fuel for cooking, which is usually gas (LPG or natural gas), kerosene, electricity or charcoal. Biogas (that is similar to natural gas) is also used for cooking and lightening at households. The biogas is produced in reactors or digesters that is usually made of concrete, bricks, or stainless steels, and for the small ones, also plastics or fiberglass. However, these digesters are usually expensive and demand financial subsidiary to be economically feasible for households.

A Swedish company (FOV) has recently developed biogas reactors from specific textile materials that is resistant to the digestion condition. Our PhD students (Karthik and Solmaz) have tested a textile reactor of such materials at the lab for more than a year and it works quite well. It is strong, gas tight, portable and resistance to the chemicals and bacteria present in the digesting media. The reactors have a lifetime of at least 10 years according to the company. These reactors can be used at households to produce biogas for cooking from their kitchen wastes. Read more about these reactors and their economical feasibility here!