Malaysia has 10 million acres of oil palm trees that require replanting every 20 to 30 years. The palm trees that are chopped provide abundant oil palm trunks, which are an alternative source of raw material for the furniture, building and construction industries, due to the need to prevent deforestation.
Oil palm trunks are rarely utilised because palm trees that are chopped are usually left to decay in the oil palm plantations. In addition, the density of oil palm trunks varies from 150kg/m³ to 700kg/m³, with the outer trunk being the densest and the inner truck being the least dense. Nevertheless, the hard, long and woody dark fibres have the appearance of reinforced concrete when viewed in a cross-section. These fibres are embedded in a very soft cell matrix, and give the wood its strength. The lack of knots and growth-related defects provide a uniform quality while the unique wood grain structure enhances its aesthetic value.
The moisture content is very high and ranges from 150% to 600% based on the dry mass. Due to this high moisture content, and the sugar and starch in the wood, fungal decay starts very quickly. Preventing decay requires special logistics in the supply chain, from logging to processing oil palms, and involves a very complex drying process.
Until now, investors and companies that are interested in producing and utilising palm wood from oil palm trunks have not found any viable or sustainable solution to use this untapped potential. Additionally, machines and tools need to be adapted or optimised for processing palm wood effectively. All these challenges have held back the industrial development of palm wood.