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Biji Karet meets Kolang-Kaling

On Wednesday, 6 March 2013, our team of the Indonesian/Dutch research cluster "Breakthroughs in Biofuels" visited Masarang Palm Sugar Factory.

Led by Prof. Erik Heeres (Green Chemical Reaction Engineering) of the University of Groningen and Dr. Robert Manurung (Life Sciences and Technology) of the Bandung Institute of Technology, our cluster aims to develop robust reactor technology for the biorefinery of rubber nut oil in the context of the Ex-MegaRice area, in South Kalimantan.

[foto1]Dr Robert Manurung discussing with Willie

Upon our request, Dr. Willie Smits was kind enough to give us an opportunity for comparison and reflection by introducing us to the zero-waste approach to sugar palm exploitation in the factory in Tomohon. Our research focuses on successfully introducing appropriate technologies for the exploitation of a hitherto under-addressed bio-resource (viz. Biji Karet, the fruit of the rubber tree). Therefore, the visit to Pabrik Gula Aren Masarang was an excellent introduction to a sustainable systems approach that also involves an existing agricultural resource, and aims for zero-waste (in Willie's words) or 100%-valorization (in Erik's words) utilization of the crop.

We will not attempt the Herculean task of representing everything Willie brought forward in this brief report, but the examples were clear - from the sugar itself, to the palm's Kolang-Kaling fruit, to bamboo Europallets used for transport, by way of the involvement of animal livestock and algae, geothermal energy even, ending with a sample of very passable palm sugar rum, it is clear that, at Masarang Sugar Factory, the number of angles is endless. Inspiration indeed, and we were happy to be able to offer one previously unidentified application, when Dr. Robert Manurung pointed out that the marrow of the palm leaf rib can be used as a basis for cattle feed, as he witnessed himself in West-Timor. The photo shows Dr. Manurung in mid-explanation.

We look back contentedly to our visit, as we found both confirmation and inspiration to continue on our chosen path - and we happily leave open to debate whether it leads to zero-waste or to 100%-valorization. Thanks!

On behalf of the team,

Mr. Tim Zwaagstra, M.A.
Cluster Coordinator Breakthroughs in Biofuels

Visitor list:
- Prof. Erik Heeres, Chemical Engineering, University of Groningen
- Dr. Robert Manurung, Bio-Engineering, Bandung Institute of Technology
- Prof. Togar Simatupang, Operations Research, Bandung Institute of Technology
- Dr. Chusnul Hidayat, Agricultural Technology, Gadjah Mada University
- Dr. Enny Ratnaningsih, Chemical Engineering, Bandung Institute of Technology
- Dr. Pudji Hastuti, Agricultural Technology, Gadjah Mada University
- Dr. Bartjan Pennink, Global Economics & Management, University of Groningen
- Mr. Miftahul Ilmi MSi, PhD candidate, Gadjah Mada University
- Mr. Ad de Leeuw, Consultant to BiB, siSinga Consultancy
- Mrs. Ponti Caroline, Indonesian Representative University of Groningen and Wageningen University
- Mr. Tim Zwaagstra, Research & Valorisation, University of Groningen

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