General Sewage Technology

Treatment of waste water and wastes from palm oil production in pilot-scale in Medan/Indonesia

In the course of two-year practical trials, anaerobic fixed bed technology has proved its suitability for the treatment of highly contaminated wastewaters from palm oil production. The resulting biogas can be used as an alternative energy source and as a source of process energy. This process will improve both the sustainability and the cost-effectiveness of palm oil production. 


The conventional system for waste water treatment in ponds and the propagated land application are not suitable form ecological and economical point of view.

The target of the project was to develop an more environmental-friendly alternative and to evaluate an integrated waste water-/waste concept by a feasibility study.

Over two years high polluted POME (Palm Oil Mill Effluent) was treated in fixed bed digesters.


  • The anaerobic fixed bed technology is very suitable for practice. The high expectations were fulfilled in view to process stability, dynamic load characteristic, loading rate and efficiency, short hydraulic retention time and low demand for process control.
  • The waste water is easily degradable. Even through the POME has a low pH of 4 a neutralisation is not necessary. A separation of suspended solids simplify the following treatment steps.
  • A feasibility study were worked out for an integrated waste water-/waste concept based on the results of experiments. As conclusion can be presented:
  • the anaerobic fermentation of POME in fixed bed digesters and utilisation of the produced biogas in combination with a composting of solid wastes, which are moistened by the pre-treated POME, gives an realistic Zero-Waste-Concept, which is much better from ecological as from economical point of view than the conventional systems.
  • it is possible to improve the sustainability and the economy of the palm oil production.

Project Participants

Implementing Institution

TÜV Rheinland Sicherheit und Umweltschutz GmbH

Cooperation partner

Indonesian Oil Palm Research Institute (IOPRI)

Universität Karlsruhe

UTEC - Ingenieurbüro für Entwicklung und Anwendung umweltfreundlicher Technik GmbH

More Project Informations

Project title:  Treatment of waste water and wastes from palm oil production in pilot-scale in Medan/Indonesia

Project number:  0339738/0

Project period:  1999 - 2001

Project region:  Germany (Berlin), Indonesia

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Source: German National Library of Science and Technology Hannover (TIB)