TT No. 554: Production of Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) from Empty Fruit Bunch (EFB) with Wood Fibres Mix

Medium density fibreboard (MDF) is a bio-composite widely used particularly in furniture and building products. In Malaysia, most MDF plants use rubberwood (RW) as raw material, and of late the industry is facing a problem with the inconsistency in supply and the price hike of RW. Other materials such as mixed tropical hardwood (MTH) are used as part of raw materials to substitute RW for MDF production. The industry has to find an alternative material which is abundantly available, renewable and price competitive compared with normal wood. The palm oil mill produces about 22% of empty fruit bunch (EFB) from the fresh fruit bunch (FFB) being processed, and in 2013 there was about 8 million tonnes (dry weight) of EFB produced in Malaysia. Although EFB is a fibrous material, it has characteristics that are similar with other wood or lignocellulosic materials. The MDF from EFB blended with RW and MTH was produced at a pilot scale and results were very promising particularly on the mechanical properties. Optimum results were obtained for blending ratio up to 20% EFB fibres. The swelling property declined beyond the acceptable limit with higher loading of EFB fibres. All properties are below the minimum standard requirements (EN 622-5,2006) for MDF panel produced from 100% EFB fibres. 

Main Research: Zawawi Ibrahim