Category Archives: 1998 Vol 10 No 1

Hydroxystearic compounds from unsaturated palm fatty acid

Initial studies on hydroxylation of unsaturated palm fatty acids were carried out with very promising results. Hydroxylation of unsaturated palm fatty acids with hydrogen peroxide-acetic acid for two hours gave products with melting points of 79°C – 128°C, acid values of 135-165, saponifiable values of 119-128 and hydroxyl values of 384-440. Yield of the product was about 80% – 90%. The product characteristics were very different from those obtained from other oils. For example, hydroxy fatty acid from sunflower oil has a saponifiable value of 212, acid value of 140 and hydroxyl value of 222 (Dahlke et al., 1995).

The product obtained in this study was not only 9,10-dihydroxystearic acid but also some fatty acids and 10-oxo-stearic acid. By adding hydroxystearic acid at a concentration of 0.2%, the life of steel was extended by up to 10 times, showing that hydroxystearic acid was very effective as a rust inhibitor. Therefore, hydroxylation of unsaturated palm fatty acid is a promissing process for obtaining hydroxystearic compounds.

Palm based sulphonated methyl esters and soap

Malaysia currently has the capacity to produce about 20% of the world’s production of basic oleochemicals such as fatty acids, fatty methyl esters, other fatty alkyl esters, fatty alcohols and glycerol. Besides basic oleochemicals, there are also capacities to produce other derivatives such as mono and diglycerides, soap noodles, metalic soaps and ethylene bisstearamide.

Alpha-sulphonated methyl ester (α-SME) is an anionic surfactant that has frequently been mentioned. Due to its good detergency and less sensitive to water hardness, it could be used as a soap additive. However, α-SME received commercial significance only in Japan. Due to the availability of fatty methyl esters, which is the raw material for the production of α-SME and can be the raw material for the production of soap, it is worthwhile to consider utilizing these (fatty methyl ester and soap) to the best for Malaysia.

This paper reports on the washing behavior of α-SME based on palm fatty acid distillates, palm stearin and pure fatty acids produced on a pilot plant scale. The detergency of α-SME from palm stearin and palm fatty acid distillates were found to be similar and comparable to LAS and FAS. α-SME was also found to be mild towards the enzyme Savinase. As expected, the detergency of soap is increased via the addition of α-SME, and, at room temperature, the combination of (C12 soap:C14 – α SME) was better than (C14 a soap:C14 α-SME) and which was, in turn, better than (C14 soap:C12 α-SME).

Analysis of oil palm productivity: III. Seasonal variation assimilate requirements, assimilation capacity, assimilate storage and apparent photosynthetic conversion efficiency

Total productivity of oil palm growing at two sites in West Malaysia was assessed on a monthly basis over three to four years aided by a method for calculating monthly bunch dry matter production. The level and seasonal variations in production were compared with those predicted by a simulation model of oil palm growth which used solar radiation and leaf area index as the main inputs. Deviations between measured and modelled productivity were catered for by invoking changes in assimilate storage. The contribution to the seasonal yield pattern, by changes in assimilation capacity (via changes in radiation and leaf area index) and storage pool size were assessed for each site. The influence of variations in sink strength on the system is discussed.

Incidence of potyvirus disease in oil palm nursery seedlings

Oil palm seedlings raised in some nurseries in Karnataka State, India exhibited mosaic, mottling and ringspot symptoms indicative of virus infection. The incidence was in the range 0.001%-0.01% and was mostly observed in material imported from Costa Rica (ASD). Electron microscopic examination of leaf sap revealed flexuous filamentous particles, ultra-thin sections of symptomatic leaves showed pin wheel inclusions and scrolls in mesophyll tissues, characteristic features of poty virus. This paper highlights the virus incidence in the introduced material and its implications for quarantine.

Notes on oil palm productivity : I. Productivity at two contrasting sites

Yields at an inland and a coastal site planted two years apart, were examined from the start of bunch harvest up till the tenth (inland) or twelfth (coastal) years after planting. Both monthly and annual trends in bunch dry matter production were examined in terms of the development of yield ‘cycles’ and yield levels, respectively. Cycles were most pronounced at the more productive coastal site. There was evidence for external factor(s) modifying timing of yield peaks. Differences in yields between sites involved differences in bunch and female inflorescence numbers; the later due mainly to altered sex ratios.

The yield differences were accompanied by differences in vegetative dry matter production, dry matter partitioning and standing biomass, and involved variation in both radiation interception (via differing leaf area indices) and photosynthetic conversion efficiency. The contribution of genotypic variation to the observed differences was not determined.

Cytological analysis of Elaeis guineensis and Elaeis oleifera chromosomes

Cytological analysis performed on metaphase chromosome spreads of two oil palm species, E. guineensis (tenera) and E. oleifera, showed that both species have 2n=32 chromosomes. Paired t-tests showed no significant difference between paired homologues of E. oleifera whereas for E. guineensis, pair 7 showed a significant difference between the homolouges. For both species, based on chromosome length, pair 1 was assigned to Group 1, pairs 2-9 to group II and pairs 10-16 to group III. For E. guineensis and E. oleifera, Group 1 consists of the longest chromosome (10.98% and 10.69% of total haploid chromosome length respectively), Group II of medium length chromosomes (5.86%-8.79% and 6.05%-8.49% of total haploid chromosome length respectively) and Group III of medium short chromosomes (3.22%-5.47% and 3.01%-5.69% of total haploid chromosome length respectively). Paired t-tests performed for homologue chromosome pairs of E. oleifera and E. guineensis showed no significant difference in chromosome length between them. This is expected due to the fact that the two species can be crossed

Techniques for sampling oil palm roots : I. Motorised root sampler

Root study is an important aspect of research for understanding how plants interact with the environment. However, sampling of roots is an arduous task. A technique using a motorised hammer and a STIBOKA soil column cylinder was found to greatly enhance the sampling of oil palm roots in mineral soil. It enables a team of three workers to rapidly sample roots from a palm in a day.