Evaluation of Coagulation-flocculationa Treament Technologies in Palm Oil Effluent Management

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Contribution to Books

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Industrial Waste Engineering


Malaysia is one of the prominent crude palm oil-producing countries in the world, with almost up to 20 million tonnes in the year 2015 (MPOB, 2015). In line with the rapid development of palm oil industries, these factories are also known to notoriously pollute the environment, specifically public waterways, due to discharging of untreated or partially treated palm oil mill effluent (POME). POME is a colloidal suspension of biological origin with a pungent odour. It is a dark brownish liquid containing 95–96% water, slightly acidic, with a pH value range of 4.0–5.0. Other typical characteristics are high biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) (20,000–30,000 mg/L) and high chemical oxygen demand (COD) (30,000–50,400 mg/L) with 4–5% of total solids (TS) (36,500–42,600 mg/L). POME also contains highly suspended particles (11,500–22,500 mg/L) within a size range below 10 μm that do not readily settle without aid. Hence, many processing treatment plants still fail to comply with the standard discharge limits after applying a full treatment system, be it biological or chemical treatment or even advanced treatment such as membrane filtration. The fine suspended solids in the POME are unable to be contained and will inevitably be released from the treatment plant. Without proper treatment of POME, the oily and non-oily particulates in suspension will pollute water courses to where it is discharged. Therefore, this chapter focuses on the nanosize suspended solids in POME to conduct a thorough study on the evolution of coagulation-flocculation technologies in palm oil mill effluent management.


This study is supported by the RUI grant (grant no. 1001/PAWAM/8014020) awarded by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). The authors would also like to extend their appre- ciation to the financial support given by the International Foundation of Science (IFS) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) (grant no. W-5334-2 and no. 304/ PAWAM/6050364).