November 1, 2018

Production of palm oil

Processing palm oil fruits for edible oil has been practiced in Africa for thousands of years, and the oil produced, highly colored and flavored, is an essential ingredient in much of the traditional West African cuisine.

The oil palm produces two types of oils, palm oil from the fibrous mesocarp and lauric oil from the palm kernel. In the conventional milling process, the fresh fruit bunches are sterilized and stripped of the fruitlets which are then digested and pressed to extract the crude palm oil (CPO).

Crude palm oil is refined to remove impurities. Conversion of CPO to refined oil involves removal of the products of hydrolysis and oxidation, colour and flavour. After refining, the oil may be separated (fractionated) into liquid and solid phases by thermo-mechanical means (controlled cooling, crystallisation, and filtering), and the liquid fraction (olein) is used extensively as a liquid cooking oil in tropical climates, competing successfully with the more expensive groundnut, corn, and sunflower oils.

Palm-kernel oil is extracted as a separate process, involving grinding, heating and the use of an ‘oilseed expeller’ or solvent. The nuts are separated from fibre in the press cake and cracked to obtain palm kernels which are crushed in another plant to obtain crude palm kernel oil (CPKO). The oil then requires clarification in a filter press or by sedimentation. Palm kernel cake is a by-product, which is used as an animal feed.

Fractionation of CPO and CPKO in the refinery produces the liquid stearin fraction and a solid stearin component.
Production of palm oil
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