APL in the Field: Indonesia Report

Yoav and I just returned from a trip to Indonesia to help with the set up and operational instruction for 2 Power Pallets there.

They are being integrated into a pilot stage “Village Hub” project. This pilot is located next to a palm sugar factory run by the Masarang Foundation (http://www.masarang.nl/). The factory uses waste geothermal heat from a 35 MW geothermal plant to dry and prepare palm sugar. This sugar is prepared from the sap of the Arenga Palm (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arenga_pinnata), a species studied by Willie Smits who studied forestry in the Netherlands (and gave a great TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/willie_smits_restores_a_rainforest.html). The sap is collected by bruising the fruiting branches, which release the sap, up to 100 liters per tree per day. It can be processed into sugar and ethanol. The Arenga palm can grow on poor soils, allowing deforested areas to be reforested, acting as a nurse tree to re-introduce more diverse species (see Willie’s TED talk above).

The Village Hub concept is to create smaller scale plants that can operate with zero external inputs and zero waste. These would collect sap from a collection of local farmers allowing economic opportunities to stay and protect reforested areas. The Hub would provide extra electricity to the villages and a medical office with internet access for doctors. The Power Pallet would provide electricity for plant operations and other uses.

We successfully installed and operated the Power Pallets and provided training to the workers at the facility, who were quite excited to be involved and learn about gasification and the equipment.

A view of the pilot factory – designed to be zero waste – the sugar operation (upper left) makes sugar/alcohol/distilled water, wastes feed pigs, pig and human waste feeds a biogas digestor (lower right), CO2 from alcohol fermentation feeds algae in pond. Algae feeds pigs. Remaining nutrient rich water into rice field (lower).

Going over the 20 kW control panel and startup check list.

Sticks for firewood are often set by the side of the road. These come from a leguminous tree species, native to central America. It grows fast and can be coppiced (cut high, it then resprouts new branches) – Calliandra calothyrsus – http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/agpc/doc/PUBLICAT/Gutt-shel/x5556e09.htm
Given the long rains and >30% MC fuel, we primarily used crushed coconut shells which worked great.

Chipping wood with a mill, consideration of fuel moisture in the humid tropics is key.

Preparing a 10 kW Power Pallet for operation.

A happy team with a running 10 kW

Bear Kaufmann
All Power Labs