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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 3 (2014 Deadline)

CLEAN project: converting municipal solid waste leachate into energy

PI:  Wiratni Budhijanto (, Universitas Gadjah Mada
U.S. Partner: Largus T. Angenent, Cornell University
Project Dates: October 2014 to April 2018
3-21 Batch Reactors
The complete set of batch reactors with three variations of media (carbon, zeolite, and the mixture of carbon and zeolite).
In the Bantar Gebang Landfill Site, which handles the municipal solid waste (MSW) from Jakarta, the total emitted volume of MSW is 5000-6000 tons/day, with leachate volume reaching 100-1000 m3/day. If treated appropriately, the MSW and leachate potentially produce 500,000 Nm3 of biogas per day, which is equivalent to 200 MWh of electricity per day. Leachate is still considered one of the largest environmental problems in Indonesian landfill sites that are closely surrounded by inhabitants. This research project aims to overcome the leachate problem by transforming the Bantar Gebang Land Fill Site into an environmentally friendly renewable energy plant. The energy plant will include an anaerobic reactor system that will convert MSW to biogas, and the leachate treatment will produce additional biogas and fresh inoculums to accelerate the conversion. The long-term goal will be converting problematic MSW landfill sites into integrated industries to produce energy and other side products beneficial for the surrounding community. The expected scientific achievements will include production of biocarrier materials to improve the efficiency of leachate conversion into renewable energy and development of a systematic scale-up procedure by means of a deterministic mathematical model to apply the results of this research in the sector. Project activities will include laboratory experiments, mathematical model-based computer simulation, year-long operation of the pilot project, and outreach programs involving graduate students, workshops for stakeholders, and training of junior staff and technicians. Collaboration with the U.S. partner, who will provide technical and scientific advice, is expected to open more possibilities for acceleration of clean energy initiatives in Indonesia.

The project developed in a low-carbon energy system framework addresses one of USAID’s current focus areas in support of low-carbon development in Indonesia. This clean energy research project will support efforts to build clean energy capacity by aiming to minimize leachate emission, which has been hazardous for residents in the surrounding area. The developmental impacts expected from this project include: (1) strengthening institutional capacity as one of the prime vehicles for implementing the Indonesian clean energy vision; (2) enhancing international collaboration in the institution's academic activities; (3) promoting environmental cleanup using appropriate technology at an affordable budget, so that the pilot project can be implemented in other landfill sites in Indonesia; (4) triggering new industries to produce the "start-up kit" to accelerate the process and to stabilize the up-flow anaerobic sludge (UASB) reactor treating high organic liquid waste, such as the landfill leachate and industrial liquid wastes, (5) promoting the establishment of an "energy extraction complex," which consists of one biogas reactor, an UASB, an anaerobic filter, and a testing pond, to process MSW into a useful product (biogas plant, biogas liquefaction plant, and organic fertilizer plant), and (6) presenting a method of technology development that would be most appropriate for the Indonesian situation, the community, and the stakeholders.
Summary of Recent Activities

The Complexity of the Organic Waste Problem video produced by the research team (Indonesian).
The anaerobic fluidized bed reactor (AFBR) at the waste treatment pilot plant at the Piyungan Landfill Site has been connected to the aeration unit since September 2017. During the last quarter of the year, Dr. Budhijanto and her team have worked on optimizing the operations of the pilot plant. In parallel to the process optimization, they are testing an environmentally-friendly chemical treatment of the outflow from the aerobic tank to make the emitted water clear and safe for discharge into the nearby river. The last step is being carried out at the request of the local government because the color of the liquid coming out of the system is still dark brown, although actually the organic content has been reduced and is safe for release.

The team is currently collaborating with other groups in their university (UGM) whose work is also related to municipal solid waste to write a comprehensive monograph about Indonesian municipal solid waste from various perspectives. The book will include (1) the current municipal waste management situation in Indonesia, (2) a review on regulation, (3) best practices in waste reduction and sorting, (4) a review on technology in the Indonesian context, (5) leachate treatment technology, (6) evaluation of economic aspects, and (7) life-cycle analysis on municipal waste technology. The book is targeted for completion in March 2018 and will be launched at the closing of this PEER research project. In the finishing stage of the project, the PI and her colleagues also plan to write a policy brief regarding integrated treatment at landfill sites (including leachate treatment) to minimize all environmental hazards originating from the sites. Prior to the policy brief dissemination, they will organize a small forum in February 2018 to discuss various aspects of municipal waste management by inviting experts in all aspects of municipal solid waste issues in Indonesia. Finally, the researchers are also drafting a comprehensive paper on AFBR for leachate treatment to be submitted to an international journal.

In January 2018 Dr. Budhijanto submitted a pre-proposal for PEER Cycle 7 to work with Indonesian fertilizer and cement plants on more efficient integration of organic-leachate-nonbiodegradable treatment of municipal solid waste in the Indonesian context. She found her U.S. Government-supported partner, Dr. Samir Khanal of the University of Hawaii, through an introduction by a speaker at the PEER Indonesia Forum in August 2017, Dr. Scott Turn of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. Regardless the outcome of the new PEER pre-proposal, this summer Dr. Khanal will come to Indonesia with his own funding to initiate collaboration in bioenergy and waste treatment. In another interesting side project flowing out of the current PEER Cycle 3 effort, Dr. Budhijanto and her group are currently working with a large dairy plant in East Java to study the possibility of applying AFBR technology to handle their liquid waste. After this study, they will conduct technoeconomic analysis to assess whether AFBR technology (the same design as the one tested at the Piyungan Landfill Site) is feasible for the dairy plant. If so, the plant managers have indicated their willingness to install the AFBR system in their factory to overcome the liquid waste problem.