Diponegoro University Vocational Lecturer Rizka Amalia, S.T., M.T. recently received an award as SINTA 2023 Affiliated Young Lecturer in the field of science and technology Rank 1. The award was given by the Rector of Diponegoro University, Prof. Dr. Yos Johan Utama, S.H., M.Hum. at the Award Ceremony, which took place during the Mother’s Day commemoration ceremony at Widya Puraya Field, Undip Tembalang. “SINTA (Science and Technology Index) is a database that measures the performance of science and technology and is a medium for showing the performance of an educational institution or university,” he said. Each lecturer’s report card score is reflected in the SINTA Score because it represents the lecturer’s performance in areas such as research, community service, teaching (books), scientific publications, and intellectual property.

Rizka, who is one of the lecturers in the Undip Vocational Industrial Chemical Engineering Technology Study Program (TRKI), is very fond of improving competence both through industrial competency certification and retooling in various countries. Retooling or retraining, which is carried out almost every year, includes the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) Japan, Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Science, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, and the University of Rhode Island, USA. She has achieved the SINTA award for 2 years in a row because various productive activities support it in terms of research. Her current research has the theme “Refining Palm Oil for Reducing 3-MCPD Compounds through Bioadsorption with Modified Palm Oil Empty Bunches”.

Rizka expresses concern about palm oil consumed as a healthy cooking oil, which is suspected to contain the compound 3-monochloro-propane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD) ester in the range of 0.04 – 0.05 ppm. 3-MCPD ester is a contaminant classified as a genotoxic carcinogen within the chloropropanol group. The specification of 3-MCPD ester content in palm oil remains controversial, but some European Union countries already use it as a trade barrier for palm oil in the European region.

To address this, Rizka, along with the research team led by Prof. Dr. Eflita Yohana, developed palm oil refining through fixed-bed adsorption using modified empty palm fruit bunches as adsorbents to reduce 3-MCPD ester (< 0.02 ppm/Codex Standard) and achieve a well-proven technology. Refining palm oil through fixed-bed adsorption with bioadsorbents from modified empty palm fruit bunches has excellent potential for development. “This fixed-bed adsorption column has various advantages, including easy operation, cost-effective equipment fabrication, minimal friction between adsorbents, no loss of adsorbents, maximum adsorbent capacity, and the adsorbent in the bed remains like layers where each layer contacts the adsorbed solution,” explained Rizka.

“3-MCPD ester is believed to form from the reaction between chloride ions and free glycerol found in food products as a result of lipid hydrolysis. Therefore, reducing 3-MCPD ester in palm oil products can be done in two ways: by avoiding the meeting of precursors for 3-MCPD ester formation (glycerol and chloride ions) or by eliminating formed 3-MCPD ester through physical, chemical, or microbiological means,” Rizka clarified.

Rizka added that obtaining palm oil free from 3-MCPD is believed to enhance the competitiveness and added value of Indonesian palm oil. The technology developed provides a solution to the issue of 3-MCPD ester formation in palm oil, which has become a barrier to international trade. This research is expected to have a significant impact on the growth of the Indonesian palm oil industry.

Meanwhile, the Dean of the Vocational School of Diponegoro University, Prof. Dr. Ir. Budiyono, M.Si., expressed gratitude for the achievement of the faculty members and added to the list of the accomplishments of the Vocational School. This achievement demonstrates how the university recognizes the performance of the academic community at the Vocational School. “We hope that the lecturers at the Vocational School of Diponegoro University can be motivated, continue to improve their competence, and, equally importantly, maintain the spirit of improving SINTA Score achievements,” he concluded.

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