Category Archives: 2006 Special Issue

The need to reduce national greenhouse gases emissions: oil palm industry’s role

Malaysia ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994 and the Initial National Communication (INC) submission based on 1994 inventory of emissions and removals was submitted in 2000. Now with the coming in force of the Kyoto Protocol on 16 February 2005, the preparation of the Second National Communication (NC2) would be a continual step towards Malaysia’s commitment on the national implementation of UNFCCC. The approach and process consisted of a self-assessment of the national greenhouse gases (GHG) inventories that would include measures undertaken to adapt and to mitigate climate change. The objective would be to improve NC2 submission in 2006 by addressing the gaps identified during the preparation of INC. The NC2 would cover all sectors that would be vulnerable to climate change. For each of the sector identified, an inventory of possible sources of GHG emissions/removals was listed. Under INC only five broad sectors of energy, industrial process, agriculture, land-use and land-use change and forestry, and waste, had their emissions and removals through sequestration identified and quantified.

In updating the GHG inventory for the base year 2000, the 1996 IPCC revised guidelines were used, and the 1994 inventory was also recalculated using the 1996 guidelines. The vulnerability and adaptation of the oil palm plantations activities were assessed for all seven sectors of agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, water and coastal resources, public health and energy. As for the mitigation of climate change, however, the oil palm industry activities for five sectors of energy, agriculture, waste, land-use and land-use change and forestry, including the use of clean development mechanism (CDM) was reviewed. The details of adaptation and mitigation measures undertaken by the oil palm industry activities were prioritized in the NC2. From the prioritization, improvement in GHG inventory, adaptation measures and mitigation options were used to compute as accurately as possible the total GHG emissions to determine whether the industry is a net emitter or sequester of GHG emissions. The positive contribution by the oil palm industry in reduction of GHG emissions would be used to assist in the computation of the net national GHG emissions when the other industries’ sectors net emissions would be totalled up. The role and contribution of the oil palm industry in enhancing reduction of national GHG emissions would be highlighted. The paper provided firm recommendations to improve the computation of GHG emissions by focusing on capacity building process, coordination, sustainable development and integration of climate change programmes in the medium- to long-term planning of the palm oil industry.

Characterization of parameters for the development of an early screening test for basal stem rot tolerence in oil palm progenies

Basal stem rot (BSR) of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) is caused by Ganoderma boninense, and is one of the most commercially devastating diseases in Southeast Asia. So far, cultural practices, combined to some extent with biological control, have been considered as the best approach for controlling the disease. However, in recent years, sources of genetic resistance and susceptibility have been identified in field trials, leading to the consideration of a genetic approach as an integrated component in controlling the disease. To develop this approach, an early screening test at the nursery or pre-nursery stage is needed, based on artificial inoculation and correlated with field observations. The success of nursery seedling artificial inoculation relies on a set of parameters such as defining the inoculum potential like the aggressiveness of G. boninenseisolates, the incubation period of pre-infected rubberwood blocks (RWB), the ratio between the size of pre-infected RWBs and the volume of soil for infection, and the quality of nursery or pre-nursery shade as pre-disposing factors. When this set of parameters was optimized, disease symptoms were observed three months after the inoculation of germinated seeds. This avoided the transfer of seedlings from the pre-nursery to the main nursery, minimized transplanting shock and root damage, and also reduced the time taken for the screening test and the nursery area required. This early inoculation enabled the discrimination of isolates according to their aggressiveness, expressed by the quantification of external and internal disease symptoms and by using a standardized scoring scale. Development of this method will lead to the selection of isolates to be used in screening for resistance or tolerance to BSR. Preliminary results seemed to show that it was possible to distinguish the degree of susceptibility of progenies inoculated artificially at the germinated seed stage or when transferred to polybags. A good correlation was obtained between those two stages, suggesting that the level of resistance was conserved irrespective of the physiological stage used for screening in the nursery. However, it is important to bear in mind that these results need to be confirmed and correlated with field observations under natural infection conditions.

Research in the commercialization of Metarhizium anisopliae (Hyphomycetes) for biocontrol of the rhinoeros beetle, Oryctes rhinoceros (Scarabaeidae), in oil palm

Using the entomopathogenic fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae, to control the rhinoceros beetle, Oryctes rhinoceros, was first attempted in 1976. Early screening showed M. anisopliae variety major to be highly pathogenic to O. rhinoceros. Further work concentrated on using the variety to control O. rhinoceros as the pest infestation increased in oil palm plantations. Assessment of isolates from different localities found little variation in pathogenicity between them. Dipping the larvae in a spore solution of 10 8 spores ml- 1 caused 100% mortality after 12 and 14 days. Analysis of the fungal DNA by RAPD-PCR showed a high similarity in the genetic base among isolates. Two primers can be used for fingerprinting and as a post-release monitoring tool as they were able to differentiate the isolates SE and BP from the others. An initial field study applying the fungus as spore solutions and sporulated substrates infected all stages of the pest, causing up to 84% reduction in its overall population.
The effects of the fungus on the oil palm pollinating weevil and non-target organisms were studied. The fungus did not affect development of the weevil. Toxicity tests showed the fungus to be harmless to rats. Fish exposed to very high spore concentrations of 1000 mg ml- 1 (eight times higher than the highest rate applied in the field) only caused 25% mortality and at 2000 mg ml- 1 only 40% mortality. The larvae of the stag beetle, Aegus chelifer, were susceptible to M. anisopliae, although less so than the larvae of O. rhinoceros. At 12 days after treatment, all the tested isolates caused 33.3% – 83.3% mortality to the stag beetle larvae but killed all (100%) of the O. rhinoceros larvae.
The spores of M. anisopliae were successfully mass produced using solid state fermentation. Fungal mycelia were first produced in liquid medium and then sporulated on a solid medium of maize. Harvesting was done by separating out the spores from the maize by washing in water, collecting them by vacuum filtration and drying at low temperature before finally grinding to powder. The yield of spores was 9.2-10.5 g per 200 g maize bag with a viability of > 80%. The powder formulation was tested in the field, pre-mixed with water and applied to rotting oil palm debris by spraying. M. anisopliae infected O. rhinoceros in all stages of its life cycle. Application to rotting debris reduced the O. rhinoceros population by up to 80%. The field application of M. anisopliae did not affect the populations of oil palm pollinating weevil and stag beetle.

Functional esters derived from fats and oils

The fatty acid esters have been used in almost all fields of industry because of their flexibility for desired properties and functions. Actually various kinds of esters with different kinds of performances are designed by changing the starting materials, such as fatty acids and alcohols. That is why fatty acids esters have received considerable attention year after year and they have been used in a lot of fields, such as lubricants, anti-static agents for plastic, cosmetics and so forth.
Recently, the rapid developments of machinery and technology compel fatty acid esters to have much higher performances to meet them. For instance, in the electronic material field, the toners used for electronic photograph required much higher performances in view of energy-saving and high quality picture technology. In order to meet these demands, the wax must fill the properties such as sharp melting point, high heat stability, good colour performance and good dispersibility to resin. Carnauba wax has been one of the most popular waxes and has been used in toner area, but now they are not enough to match these properties needed.
On another front, environmentally friendly lubricating oil is called for more and more in recent years. In the past, mineral oils are conventionally used having the advantage of price. But now good biodegradation as well as excellent heat resistance and good lubricity is fundamental to lubricants used. Especially, the soil and water pollution issue caused by leaking oils from the machine forces to improve and develop new types of fatty acid esters with appropriate combination of properties.
From the viewpoint of environmental friendliness and complex performances desired, fatty acid esters have more possibility to be used in various field of industry due to the reconfiguration of fatty acid moiety and alcohol moiety.

Polymorphism of anhydrous milk fat as affected by the addition of palm stearins

Blends of anhydrous milk fat (AMF), soft palm stearin (SPOs) and hard palm stearin (HPOs) were prepared and analysed by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) to determine their maximum melting peak temperature, Tp and melting enthalpy, ΔH and by X-ray diffractometry (XRD) to determine their polymorphism. Contour plots were produced showing the variation of Tp and ΔH with blend composition. The XRD data showed a predominance of β’ crystals and a small proportion of β crystals, both for pure AMF and SPOs, but β crystals were dominant in pure HPOs. By blending AMF with SPOs or HPOs, the polymorphic stability of β crystals increased, with the most pronounced effect being observed in the blends containing high HPOs. This was considered to be due to the enrichment of AMF with symmetrical triacylglycerols of SPOs or HPOs which reduced the chain-length diversity that was originally found in pure AMF. An exception was observed for the binary blend of 75% AMF with 25% HPOs, which indicated that the blend occurred only in β’ polymorphic form.

HPLC-MS2 Metabolite Profiling of Quercetin Methyl, Glucuronyl, Glucosyl and Sulpho-Conjugates in Plasma and Urine after the Ingestion of Onions by Human Volunteers

Lightly fried onions containing 275 µmoles of flavonols, principally quercetin-4′-glucoside and quercetin- 3,4′-diglucoside, were fed to healthy human volunteers with plasma and urine collected over a 24 hr period. Samples were analysed by HPLC with diode array and tandem mass spectrometric detection. Five flavonol metabolites, quercetin-3′-sulphate, quercetin-3-glucuronide, isorhamnetin-3-glucuronide, a quercetin diglucuronide and a quercetin glucuronide sulphate, were detected in plasma in quantifiable amounts with trace quantities of six additional quercetin metabolites. Sub- µM peak plasma concentrations (Cmax ) of quercetin- 3′-sulphate, quercetin-3-glucuronide, isorhamnetin-3-glucuronide and quercetin diglucuronide were observed 0.6-0.8 hr after ingestion. In contrast, the Cmax of quercetin glucuronide sulphate was 2.5 hr. The elimination half-lives (T1/2 ) of quercetin-3′-sulphate, quercetin-3-glucuronide and quercetin diglucuronide were 1.71, 2.33 and 1.76 hr respectively while the T1/2 of isorhamnetin-3-glucuronide was 5.34 hr and that of quercetin glucuronide sulphate was 4.54 hr. The profile of metabolites excreted in urine was markedly different to that of plasma with many of the major urinary components absent or present in only trace amounts in the bloodstream indicative of substantial phase II metabolism. Total urinary excretion of quercetin metabolites was 12.9 µmoles corresponding to 4.7% of intake. The bioactivity of these metabolites should be considered.

Evaluation of Storage Stability of Yellow Cake Made with Red Palm Fat

Yellow cakes were prepared using red palm shortening, red palm margarine and a commercial margarine at ratio of 26:15:59 respectively. The cakes were stored at freezer (-18ºC ±3) or refrigerator (7ºC ±3), for three months and three weeks, respectively. Cakes were analysed at day 0 and after one, two, three weeks and months for their storage and oxidative stabilities. Analyses include peroxide value (PV), free fatty acid (FFA), para anisidine value (AV), conjugated diene and vitamin E content. Results showed that cakes stored in the refrigerator, formulated and control, had high initial PV value of 4.65 and 4.04 respectively. The PV of formulated cake increased slightly until week three while for the control cake PV increased until week 2 and started decreasing. The FFA, AV and conjugated diene were higher in the formulated sample. In frozen storage, the control cake had higher PV and conjugated diene value until the first month of storage and started to decrease thereafter. The FFA and AV increased with the increase of storage period. For the formulated cake, all values measured, except for FFA, increased until month three. Vitamin E content was higher in the formulated cake than the control cake for both type of storage, and it started to decrease with increasing storage period.

Developments Toward the Application of DNA Chip Technology in Oil Palm Tissue Culture

In recent years, microarrays have become widely recognized as a significant technological advance to facilitate high throughput analysis of thousands of genes and their interactions simultaneously. Microarray technology can help in the rapid identification of novel genes or gene functions most worthy of detailed characterization. cDNA microarrays were utilized to understand the molecular mechanism associated with oil palm tissue culture. The availability of oil palm expressed sequence tags (ESTs) allowed the development of a DNA chip, with 3806 oil palm gene clones. The basic parameters associated with the DNA microarray experimental technique [RNA extraction, RNA amplification, Cyanine dye (CyDye) labelling, hybridization, scanning and data normalization] were successfully established. This paper will focus on developments of cDNA microarray technique towards understanding oil palm tissue culture, with emphasis on the parameters used for data analysis. We also include specific examples to demonstrate how this technology can be applied to improve our understanding of oil palm tissue culture.

Changes of β-Carotene Content during Heating of Red Palm Olein

Red palm olein is produced from crude palm oil through a milder refining process to yield oil that contains most of the carotenes and vitamin E originally found in crude palm oil (CPO). Red palm olein (RPOo) is the richest plant source of carotenoids and its vitamin E reaches 810 ppm, mostly in tocotrienol form. Vitamin E and b -carotenes play an important role as antioxidants that grant oxidative stability to the oil. In this study, RPOo was heated at 50°C, 100°C, 150°C and 200°C for 30, 60, 90 and 120 min for each temperature. The hydrolysis and oxidative stabilities of these oil samples were compared by determining peroxide value (PV), free fatty acid (FFA) and β-carotene content. Exposing the oil samples to the various heating times and temperature accelerated the formation of peroxides. Destruction of β-carotene was observed by increased in both temperature and time exposed to heat. Significant decrease of β-carotene was observed at higher temperature for longer time. The FFA did not play any significant role in the deterioration of the heated samples of red palm olein.

Biocomposites from oil palm resources

The influence of oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) on the mechanical properties of high density rigid polyurethane (PU) has been investigated. The palm kernel oil-based polyester (functionality of 3) is mixed with tetramethylhexanediamine as curing agent, silicone-type of surfactant and EFB fibre as a filler to make the resin. This resin is then reacted with 4,4’-diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI) to produce high density rigid PU. The ratio of EFB fibre to PU matrix is varied from 25:75 to 30:70 and 35:65. The mechanical properties determined are the shore D hardness, impact and flexural strengths and percentage of water absorption. Excellence water resistance and optimum flexural and impact strengths are observed in the biocomposites with the 35:75 ratio of PU matrix to EFB fibre. The PU matrix provides an encapsulating effect to the fibre that higher amount of PU matrix fully treated the surface of the fibre. The micrographs of the biocomposites indicate good adhesion of individual fibre strands to the PU matrix.

An Investigation on the Mechanical Properties of Trunks of Palm Oil Trees for the Furniture Industry

High quality wood furniture requires several factors, such as properties of woods, product design, production process and control, which must be considered. Mechanical properties are considered to be some of the most important factors at the stages of product design and material selection. A comparison of mechanical properties between palm oil wood, rubberwood and teak, which are widely used in the furniture industry, is the objective of this study. The base, middle and top samples were cut from palm oil trunks and seven parameters were measured using standard methods and procedures. They included specific gravity, moisture content, bending stress, tensile stress perpendicular-to-grain, hardness, compressive stress parallel-to-grain, and impact stress. The overall results showed that the mechanical properties of palm oil trunk were approximately two times lower than those of teak and rubberwood. Different portions of the palm oil trunk also gave different mechanical properties. It was found that the base of the palm oil trunk gave the lowest modulus of elasticity than the top portion but provided higher hardness than the others. Hence, this study provides essential information on the suitability of palm oil wood for applications in the furniture industry.

Ecological observations on diurnal birds in Indonesian oil palm plantations

The nocturnal barn owl, Tyto alba, has been studied and used as a biological agent for the control of rats in oil palm plantations, but diurnal birds have never been investigated for their impact on oil palm pests. Only birds which damage the fruits have been recorded. However, many species are present from soon after planting up to mature oil palms.At the Indonesian Oil Palm Research Institute, Sumatra, we have carried out an inventory of these birds in two plantations and on blocks of different age. Their population and composition vary according to the time since planting and availability of food supplies. Whilst some are granivores feeding on seeds of grasses, or fruit-eaters feeding on weed berries and oil palm fruits, most of them are insectivores with their population fluctuating with caterpillar outbreaks. Their biology has been studied, especially the feeding and nesting behaviour. Their gut contents have been analysed and the amount of insects found in some species is astonishing and may have an important impact on oil palm pests, especially caterpillars. Among the 29 species observed, their dominance varies according to plantations: Pycnonotus goiavierbetween 24.4% to 28.7% of all individual birds, Prinia spp. between 27.59% to 34.4%, Parus major 9.54% to 10.56%, Copsychus saularis 4.47% to 8.62%, and Halcyon smyrnensis 5.07% to 6.90%. Parus is found on higher palms, Copsychus and Prinia more common on younger planting, Pycnonotus on both older and younger palms, as well as others such as Centropus bengalensisonly at the level of the lower strata among the cover crops.
These dominant insectivorous species feed on caterpillars, small beetles, grasshoppers and ants. For example, a pair of Parus major providing food for their young (2 or 3) collects up to 139 insects, mostly nettle caterpillars, per day from 6.55 am to 18.15 pm, with the male and female bird catching 60 to 79 of these limacodid larvae respectively.The Centropus feeding at the level of the soil breaks the nettle caterpillar cocoons and up to 12 pre-pupae and pupae of Setothosea asigna can be found in the gut of a single bird. Pycnonotusand Cosyphus are less specific, catching a wider range of insects including small beetles, caterpillars and ants. Halcyon catches bigger insects in flight such as grasshoppers and beetles. The Orthotomus, one of the species which is increasing in population, has modified its feeding behaviour by preying only on Elaeidobius kamerunicus. This may result in a reduction of the population of this pollinator, with the consequence of decreasing the oil palm fruit-setting during the first years of production.

Continous Sterilization : The New Paradigm for Modernizing Palm Oil Milling

This paper examines the current status of development and impact of a new process for continuous sterilization on palm oil milling. The process leads to improvements in the design of mills, reduces the number of process operators, lowers the operating and maintenance costs, and simplifies mill operation. Mills using the process can be more easily supervised and automated. By avoiding the use of pressure vessels for sterilization and cages and cranes for the handling of bunches, palm oil mills are made safer for operators. The use of conveyors in place of cages also minimizes spillage of fruits and oil making mills cleaner.

A Commercial Scale Implementation of Rolek™ Palm Nut Cracker : Techno-Economic Viability Study for Production of Shell-Free Kernel

new generation of palm nut cracker, known as Rolek was successfully invented through a smart partnership between MPOB and Hur Far Engineering Works Sdn Bhd (HFEWSB). A few units of this invention were installed and commissioned at three palm oil mills processing different types of nuts. A systematic evaluation was carried out to obtain their commercial performances such as cracking efficiency, kernel and nut quality, shell fragment sizes and maintenance cost. The data obtained from Rolek were then compared with commercial nut cracker (ripple mill). The machines were tested with two types of nuts as input material; 95% tenera nuts in Mill A and more than 25% dura nuts in Mills B and C. From the analysis, it was found that all mills achieved more than 98% cracking efficiency with less than 10% broken kernel. The results have also shown that all the mills produced less than 2% half cracked nuts and shell fragments were found to be uniform and small in size capable of maximizing separation of shell and kernel in the winnowing column. Concerning other parameters, Mill A showed a lower maintenance cost and longer operating hours before replacement of parts as low as RM 0.056 t-1 FFB processed at 650 operating hours, compared to Mills B and C, as it processed 95% tenera nuts having thinner shell that would be easily cracked. Therefore, the type of nuts processed is found to be the main contributing factor for the higher maintenance cost of Rolek if the consideration was made based on the parts replacement in the certain operating hours. The details of all these studies are discussed in this paper. The use of Rolek promises significant quality improvements and lesser maintenance cost than other convectional nut crackers

Influence of Refining of Vegetable Oils on Minor Components

Refining of crude vegetable oils involving degumming, bleaching and deodorization has a high influence on the content of functional minor components. In this study, the difference of chemical versus physical refining will be studied. Especially the reduction of the tocopherol content in refined oil is mainly due to oxidation of the tocopherol. Also the content of sterols in free and esterified form is changing during the various refining procedures. An alternative two-step deodorization is described.