Thailand palm oil company expands use of biogas engines

Natural Palm Oil in southern Thailand has installed a third Jenbacher engine-generator unit at its mills to utilize biogas created from the anaerobic digestion of palm oil waste material. While the power generated by the two units already commissioned is sold to the regional grid, one of these, installed at the mill at Chumporn, also provides heat for generating hot and chilled process water.

The company has installed the three Jenbacher biogas engines as part of its waste-water treatment systems at separate mills in Surat Thani and Chumporn because effluent from the extraction process cannot be disposed without treatment. The effluent is collected in an open basin, cooled down and then fed into an anaerobic digester. The resulting gas must be dehumidified and cleaned in a desulpherization unit before it is delivered to the engines for power generation.

The project ties in with the country's efforts to increase renewable energy production to 8% of the nation's total electricity supply, up from the current 1%, by 2011. This support includes specific feed-in tariffs to help make biogas applications more economically feasible for developers, says GE Jenbacher.

The first unit, with an output of 1.06 MW, was commissioned at Natural Palm Oil's factory in Surat Thani in December 2005 – the project was GE Energy's first Jenbacher palm oil biogas application. At a second mill, in the southern Thailand port city of Chumporn, the company installed another unit, which also generates 1.06 MW of electricity. These two units have successfully completed 12,000 and 8,000 operating hours, respectively.

'We are very pleased with both power plants' results. The high reliability of GE's Jenbacher gas engine on-site power technology convinced us to install a second unit for our power plant production capacity expansion at the Chumporn mill,' said Preecha Kuansongtham, Director of Natural Palm Oil.

The second Chumporn unit, which also supplies heat energy to the plant, is scheduled to be commissioned this month (September).

GE Energy manufactured all three generator-sets at its Jenbacher gas engine headquarters in Jenbach, Austria. GE's authorized local Jenbacher gas engine distributor, Italthai Industrial Co., is responsible for after-sales service for all three engines.



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