Palm Kernel Shells as Biomass Resource

Biomass residue from palm oil industries are attractive renewable energy fuel in Southeast Asia. The abundance of these biomass resources is increasing with the fast development of palm oil industries in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. In the Palm Oil value chain there is an overall surplus of by-products and the utilisation rate of these by-products is low.

Palm kernel shells (or PKS) are the shell fractions left after the nut has been removed after crushing in the palm oil mill. Palm kernel shells are a fibrous material and can be easily handled in bulk directly from the product line to the end use. Large and small shell fractions are mixed with dust-like fractions and small fibres.


Moisture content in kernel shells is low compared to other biomass residues with different sources suggesting values between 11% and 13%. Palm kernel shells contain residues of Palm Oil, which accounts for its slightly higher heating value than average lignocellulosic biomass. Compared to other residues from the industry, it is a good quality biomass fuel with uniform size distribution, easy handling, easy crushing, and limited biological activity due to low moisture content.

Press fibre and kernel shell generated by the palm oil mills are traditionally used as solid fuels for steam boilers. The steam generated is used to run turbines for electricity production. These two solid fuels alone are able to generate more than enough energy to meet the energy demands of a palm oil mill.

Most palm oil mills in the region are self-sufficient in terms of energy by making use of kernel shells and mesocarp fibers in cogeneration. The demand for palm kernel shells has increased considerably in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand resulting in price close to that of coal. Nowadays, cement industries are using palm kernel shells to replace coal mainly because of CDM benefits. PKS has also emerged as a hot biomass commodity in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in South Korea and Japan, where PKS is being used to power huge biomass power plants. PKS is also getting traction in Europe as an attractive alternative fuel.

The problems associated with the burning of these solid fuels are the emissions of dark smoke and the carry-over of partially carbonized fibrous particulates due to incomplete combustion of the fuels can be tackled by commercially-proven technologies in the form of high-pressure boilers.

Dual-fired boilers capable of burning either diesel oil or natural gas are the most suitable for burning palm Oil waste since they could also facilitate the use of POME-derived biogas as a supplementary fuel. However, there is a great scope for introduction of high-efficiency CHP systems in the industry which will result in substantial supply of excess power to the public grid.

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  1. A very interesting article.
    Regarding your comment;

    “Palm kernel shells contain residues of Palm Oil, which accounts for its slightly higher heating value than average lignocellulosic biomass”

    I would be interested to know if you have a typical value for the residual oil content of Palm Kernel Shells?

    Many thanks

  2. Your article was very interesting to me as i have designed and built presses ideal for compresing PKS into fire logs weighing 3kg and measuring 100x100x200mm the plant can produce app 8mt per hr

      • Dear Ryan
        Thanks for your email. Good to know about your interest in PKS.
        I wish to inform you that BioEnergy Consult is a consultancy organization and will charge an appropriate fee for providing the required information. Hope you are comfortable with it.
        Look forward to hearing back soon.

        Best wishes
        Salman Zafar

        CEO, BioEnergy Consult

        • Your article was informative with great aspirations. I want to learn more as well possibly will like to venture into this cause this resources lie waste in my country Nigeria. Whatever is involved. Pls my e-mail iniobongdavidgeo@gmail. com

  3. Please I have a lot of palm karnel shell to export from nigeria ,let me know how to go about it.thanks

  4. We are Ghana based Importer/Exporter and Supplier s of all kinds of PALM Products (and other Agro Products) such as: Palm Kernel Shells (PKS), Palm Kernel Fibers, Palm Kernel Cake, Palm Crude Oil and Palm Kernel Oil & etc.

    We would like to partner with you to engage in the Market look-out and Partnership. If in need of more information, kindly feel free to contact us at:

    Skype: ahanonu01

  5. A charming article indeed…I’ve never had so many information about kernel shells. I have a lot of it I mean a lot of it in my environment because there are so many companies using kernel as there raw materials…maybe we can workout something if ever will be needing it. Thanks.

    • Haha we just waste them I will be happy if I can get someone help me make it useful cos I have a farm on that

  6. thanks for this article , we have this in large volume in nigeria place put me through on how to export them .thanks .

  7. Pls i am based in Ghana with a stock of pks. Kindly provide links to possible markets in Europe or elsewhere

  8. If anyone needs Palm Kernel Shell, I can provide Palm Kernel Shell of my country Indonesia minimum of 10,000 MT / month.
    If there is a serious buyer or importer please submitted the specification and the amount you wish through the LOI to my email:
    Thank you to the owner of this blog

  9. Pingback: Advanced BioFuels USA » The Huge Unexploited Potential of Generating Biofuels from a Food Processing Residue, Palm Kernel Oil (PKO), with Ghana in Perspective

  10. I want more information on the cost of set up of the palm kernel shell renewable energy processing and packaging for export markets and market targets.

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  18. how serious is anyone here looking for PkS …if you will not buy it at less price please teach us the way to turn this shell to biomass so we also can gain a living out of such work …my emails is…remember sharing is caring so please share your experience
    thanks reading

  19. I need a contact to supply palm kernel shells from Nigeria to buyers or any company interested tank u

  20. Pingback: Palm Kernel Shells: An Attractive Biomass Fuel for Europe | BioEnergy Consult

  21. A very nice 1,thanks dear writer, I have palm kernel shell coal in a larger quantity available for sale, let’s chat on WhatsApp 08068110475

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