Geothermal wells emit pharmaceutical, cosmetic by-products: Researcher

Arif Gunawan Sulistiyono

The Jakarta Post

Indonesia’s geothermal wells contain abundant amounts of minerals used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry that can be harvested at business scale, a researcher from the University of Indonesia has said.

Joshita Djadjadisastra, a pharmaceutical expert, said the hot water from 2,000-meter deep geothermal wells was proven to cure scabies and contain useful minerals, such as silica, kaolin, bentonite, paraffin wax and micro algae.

“This is a chance for Indonesia, which has many geothermal fields. We can harvest those minerals from the geothermal wells,” she said at an international workshop entitled ‘Geothermal Technology and Business’, at the University of Indonesia in Depok on Wednesday.

Silica or silicon dioxide is the main ingredient for eye shadow, make-up foundation and hair straightening products. It could be used for deodorant, lipstick and antiperspirant. Kaolin (clay), bentonite, and paraffin wax are widely used in the cosmetic industry as thickener.

Meanwhile, the chlorella in micro algae has a very solid and stable structure and is rich in chlorophylls pigments, which contain protein, lipid, carbohydrate, cellulose, vitamins and minerals for healthy food and cosmetics.

“Our pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries are importing those ingredients while we actually can explore and exploit them in geothermal sites,” Joshita said, adding that the exploitation should be well managed to not disrupt a geothermal well’s main function of generating power.

Indonesia holds the largest geothermal energy resources in the world but has only utilized 5 percent of the potential for generating electricity. (ags)