The Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs is currently studying the potential of Buton asphalt to be processed into solid rocket fuel, in addition to its being used in road construction.
Maritime Coordinating Ministry's Deputy for Natural Resources and Services Coordination Agung Kuswandono, when participating in a discussion on energy in Jakarta on Tuesday, said the use of Buton asphalt potential needs to be encouraged, given the size of Indonesia's reserves, standing at some 670 million tons.
"I just know that asphalt can be used for rocket fuel components. If possible, perhaps the price could rise and we could become suppliers of rocket fuel," he said.
However, according to Agung, further research is needed regarding the potential of natural resources, in the form of natural asphalt.
He added that the use of Buton asphalt would have a very positive impact on suppressing asphalt imports, which have reached up to 500 million US dollars per year.
Also at the discussion, New Ventures Director of Buton Asphalt Group Agus Nuryanto said it is possible to use Buton asphalt as a solid rocket fuel.
However, Nuryanto noted that there needs to be an inexpensive system to process Buton asphalt, so that it could be used as solid rocket fuel.
"It could be (become solid rocket fuel), but it becomes expensive because Buton asphalt must be separated first, since the original form is as a rock. So, the black rock is used as asphalt, and this process is costly," he said.
Agus added that even after processing, the content in Buton asphalt is not necessarily compatible with the solid rocket fuel currently in use. In fact, the fuel for rockets cannot be made carelessly, to prevent it from exploding.
"So, the fuel is different from Buton asphal. If you want to use it, it will be rather difficult, as the specifications are different," he said.
Nevertheless, Agus is encouraged by the uses of Buton asphalt, in addition to road construction. According to Agus, like shale, which can produce oil and gas, Buton asphalt is also considered to have similar potentials.
"Both are similar, though while similar, Buton asphalt also has oil. It is hoped that the government will use it, not only as road asphalt, but also for other uses, because of its huge reserves," he said. (ant)