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~ Potensi Biofuel dari Jerami

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~ Potensi Biofuel dari Jerami

Di sejumlah besar daerah jerami masih dianggap sampah bahkan akhirnya berakhir dengan dibakar karena tak bermanfaat. Padahal, produk sampingan dari usaha pertanian padi tersebut sebenarnya punya potensi besar sebagai bahan dasar biofuel, bahan bakar ramah lingkungan. Tidak hanya akan memberikan nilai tambah, pemanfaatan jerami juga mencegah pelepasan karbon ke atmosfer saat terbakar. Siklus karbon ke atmosfer dapat diperpanjang dengan mengubahnya menjadi biofuel. Terobosan tersebut telah dilirik produsen ethanol di China.

Apalagi, sebagai salah satu negara terbesar, setiap tahun sekitar 230 juta ton batang jerami dibuang begitu saja. Tiga fasilitas pengolahan jerami menjadi biofuel telah dibangun sampai saat ini. Namun, untuk mengolah jer ami bukan hal yang mudah. Batang jerami yang kaya selulosa tidak mudah terurai bakteri yang biasa dipakai dalam proses pembuatan biomassa. Para peneliti memanfaatkan larutan alkali sodium hidroksida untuk melunakkannya sebelum proses fermentasi atau peragian. "Semuanya dilakukan pada suhu kamar, tanpa energi tambahan, dan butuh sedikit air, sehingga secara keseluruhan prosesnya sederhana, cepat, efektif biaya, dan ramah lingkungan," ujar Xiujin Li dari Universitas Teknologi Kimia Beijing. Metode yang sama sebenarnya juga sudah digunakan untuk memproduksi ethanol di lebih dari 30 negara.

Namun, bahan yang diolah adalah tebu, jagung, dan kedelai yang notebene merupakan sumber pangan utama manusia, bukan bahan buangan. Sementara di China, jerami diolah agar menghasilkan biogas. Penggunaan larutan tersebut telah terbukti meningkatkan produksi campuran gas methan dan karbon dioksida hingga 65 persen. Residu atau sampah olahannya juga bermanfaat sebagai kompos. "Dengan cara ini, jerami benar-benar didaur ulang seluruhnya," ujar Li. Memang masih ada gas karbon diosida yang dilepaskan, namun kadarnya tak sebesar jika jerami dibakar. Pilot proyek tiga pabrik dibiayai sepenuhnya oleh Pemerintah China melalui Program Riset dan Pengembangan Teknologi Tinggi. Sebagai negara agraris penghasil padi, bukankah teknologi semacam ini sangat tepat di Indonesia daripada menggunakan singkong atau kelapa sawit.

 

Jakarta, Liverscience

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