Last Updated on : Saturday, 09 April, 2016 04:35:23 PM

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The way in which harvesting and transport of FFB is carried out has a major influence on the quality of oil produced. Oils with high fatty acid contents produce high refining losses and are less resistant to oxidative degradation.


When oil palm fruit bunches are subject to bruising, the FFA content of palm oil extracted from them increases. At the site of bruising, FFA increase is rapid; in addition FFA increases with the time between harvesting and sterilization which is the first stage of the extraction process.

It is thus extremely important for ensuring good quality of the oil to minimize bruising during handling and transport, to transport bunches rapidly to the factory after harvesting, and to process bunches as quickly as possible.

There are several methods in use for transferring FFB to the factory.

In one method, the bunches are loaded at the plantation directly into sterilizer cages, which are used in the first stage of the extraction process, so as to minimize handling.

In a more common system, however, harvested bunches are loaded first into lorries or tractor/buffalo drawn carriages and then transferred to sterilizer cages at the factory.

Sterilizer cages and factor/buffalo drawn carriages are loaded manually but lorries may be loaded either manually or with a crane-and-net system.


The extraction of palm oil from FFB is by a semi-continuous process. Four stages of processing can be distinguished ; sterilization, bunch stripping, oil extraction and oil clarification and purification.

The first stage is sterilization in which FFB are subjected to live steam under a pressure of 35-45 lbs/sg. in for fifty to seventy five minutes. The purpose of the sterilization is to deactivate the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of oil into FFA, to loosen fruit from bunches and to coagulate mucilage so that oil can be recovered later in the process without recourse to conditions which would oxidize the oil.

Great care is taken during sterilization to exclude air which interferes with sterilization efficiency and may cause oxidization of the oil.

In the second stage of processing, sterilized bunches are fed continuously into a rotary drum threshing or stripping machine which strips and separates fruit from bunches. Loose fruit passes through gaps between channel bars running longitudinally along the drum, while empty bunches are eventually discharged at the end of the drum for incineration.

After stripping, fruit is fed continuously into a digester where it is stirred by a series of rotating arms. Digestion converts fruit to a homogeneous oily mash suitable for processing. The digested mash is then fed into a press for extraction of crude oil under pressure which is applied either hydraulically or by means of a worm-screw.

The crude oil at this stage consists of a mixture of oil, water and some fine solid material. This mixture is passed to a continuous separating system, from which the oil rich layer is fed to a centrifugal purifier to remove solid matter and some moisture. Finally, the oil is dried to a moisture content of below 0.1% vacuum driers are preferred since they allow oil to be dried at lower temperature in the absence of air, thus reducing the risk of oxidization. Such care to avoid oxidization is exercised throughout the process. Furthermore, efforts are made to minimize contamination of the oil with copper by avoiding the use of copper, brass of bronze fittings in pipelines and other places which come into contact with the oil.

 | INDEX : New Oil Palm | April 09, 2016 04:35:23 PM

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