Steam System Optimization at Palm Oil Mill: Case Study in Sabah, Malaysia

Document Type : Original Manuscript


1 Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia

2 Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia

3 Universiti Malaysia Terenganu, Malaysia


In this paper, a preliminary study of industrial steam system reveals that most of the industrial steam user especially the palm oil mill did not bother to save energy as long as the mill meets their productions target and is getting profits for the company. The management is not aware that a huge amount of energy is being wasted during the processes of extracting oil from the fresh fruit bunch (FFB). To embark this study, Steam System Scoping Tool (SSST), Steam System Assessment Tool (SSAT) and 3E Plus: Insulation Program Software, provided by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) are used to assess the efficiency of steam system operations. The tools also assist in preliminary assessments of how efficiently the steam system is operating. After analyses are conducted, the proposed improvement project is recommended to modify the system back to its initial designed best efficiency. The results also show that there were various losses that are contributing to the energy waste and its cost impact to the mill. Meanwhile, the boiler efficiency was only about 68.6%. The findings proposed steam system optimization (SSO) opportunities by installing the feedwater economizer and reducing the blowdown rate of the boiler. The efficiency of the boiler was increased to 77% from its current operating condition. This also improved the steam quality and production output of the mill. Through these SSO, the annual demand saving is around 4.9 MW, with an energy saving of 75,276 GJ/yr., capable of reducing 13,002 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per annum and save 598.3 Tph/yr of biomass fuel. Thus, through this steam system optimization the estimated annual net cost savings are around USD 100,000.00. This paper aims at promoting similar system optimization projects at other plants throughout Malaysia, as it benefits to all industrial steam user especially the palm oil mill industries in Malaysia.

Graphical Abstract

Steam System Optimization at Palm Oil Mill: Case Study in Sabah, Malaysia


  • Assessments of the steam system of the mill were performed by doing on-site measurement, modelling steam system using software provided by UNIDO and making analysis for the current and optimized condition. All findings and results of this research may contribute to the estimated annual saving of the mill.
  • The estimated annual electrical demand, energy demand and the biomass of fuel are around 4903kW, 75 276 GJ and 598.3 Tph of fuel respectively.
  • The total annual net cost savings that can be obtained are estimated to be USD 100,000.00 through this system optimization. Industrial steam user needs to be aware of their energy consumption in order to generate more productions which have contributed to good quality of production and gain outmost savings.


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