Category Archives: 2011 Vol 23 Dec

The growth of the oil palm industry in Colombia

Colombia is currently the world’s fifth largest producer of palm oil and the largest producer in South and Central America. It has substantial areas of land that can be used for additional oil palm production, and there is considerable scope for increasing yields in existing planted areas. This article reviews the growth in oil palm area and production since the late 1960s in the country’s four production zones, examines trends in product extraction rates, compares seasonal variations in yield, and compares various aspects of oil palm performance in Colombia with that in Southeast Asia.

Novel catalytic solutions for oleochemical processes

Catalytic processes are key to meeting the growing demand for sustainable industrial chemicals derived from oils and fats, thus ensuring the sustainability and profitability of the oleochemical industry. This article focuses on novel catalytic solutions for both existing and new processes, giving focus to raw materials, energy and the environment. Practical examples will be given of lower-metal catalysts, processing of lower-grade feedstocks, and the treatment of fatty alcohols and methyl esters.

Production of distilled biodiesel fuels through direct alkaline transesterification of used frying oil

Vegetable oils are the most suitable renewable feedstock for biodiesel production, in particular palm oil which has unique characteristics, stability and attractive price. Besides the fresh vegetable oils, used frying oil (UFO) can also be used to make an equally good product. MPOB has investigated palm olein-derived UFO for biodiesel production since 2001 employing an additional pre-treatment using silica gel prior to transesterification of UFO, which increased the production cost. Alternative approaches focusing on cost improvement are being sought. This study found that direct alkali transesterification (DAT) is possible, preferably with UFO having low free fatty acids (FFA) content. The undistilled methyl esters (ME) produced have comparable physicochemical and fuel properties with an exceptionally better yield, are more stable against oxidation and have higher heat of combustion. The ME conversion exceeded 98% and the UFOME purity was 96.5%. The UFOME produced had properties comparable to petroleum diesel and can be used as a diesel substitute. Distillation of UFOME was conducted to further improve its colour, yielding a novel UFOME (UFOMEDAT distilled). However, while the distilled UFOME had similar fuel properties with those of the undistilled UFOME, its oxidative stability was reduced to an induction period of 4.13 hr, below the compliance level of the European Standard specification EN 14214.

Improved sustainable fractionation of palm oil using polyglycerol fatty acid esters

A series of GRAS polyglycerol esters (PGE) has been produced and investigated for improving the dry fractionation of palm oil. Results show that the hydrophobic PGE can reduce the fractionation time and hence the energy consumed during fractionation. This will help to increase throughput for the process and the overall carbon footprint as a result of reducing energy use in the process. The fractionated oleins also exhibited better cloud points of between 7°C and 8°C, and an average iodine value of 57 Wijs. Crystal size was observed to be homogeneous, with the majority of the crystal sizes being in the range of 100 to 300 microns. It was also observed that this crystal size posed no filtration difficulty, as evidenced by the 76% to 78% olein yield obtained during pressing with a squeezing pressure of 5 bars. The stearins obtained were medium hard with iodine values between 33 and 35 Wijs, and slip melting points between 52°C and 53°C.

Effect of diols as co-surfactants in partial ternary phase behaviour of palm oil-based microemulsions

Microemulsions (µE) were prepared with palm fatty acid methyl esters (PFAME) as solvents, and stabilized by ethoxylated non-ionic surfactants, i.e., Dehydol LS 7 and Dehydol LS 2 as SA and SB with the hydrophiliclipophilic balance (HLB) values at ~12.8 and ~7.3, respectively. The co-surfactants chosen were 1,2-hexanediol, 1,2-butanediol, 1,2-ethanediol and glycerol. The effects of the co-surfactants on the partial ternary phase diagrams were studied at 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 30% and 40% (w/w) concentrations. The ratio of PFAME to water was either 25:75 or 50:50. The mixtures were agitated vigorously, and then kept at ambient temperature (25°C) for one to two days. The emulsions (two-phase), the µE and liquid crystalline phases were observed using polarised light. In addition, the physical stability of the µE solutions was determined at 45°C over a period of one month. The effects of the co-surfactants on the ternary phase systems for PFAME/non-ionic surfactants/water were studied and mapped out at 25°C and 45°C, respectively.

Formulation of trans-free margarines using hydrogenated and interesterified palm olein

Palm olein (POL) was studied as a material for the formulation of trans-free margarines (TFM) having less than 1% of trans fatty acid content. To achieve this aim, hydrogenation and interesterification reactions were performed using POL to obtain fats having desirable melting properties. Samples from the early stages of hydrogenation and after interesterification were analysed for their melting behaviour and trans contents. During hydrogenation, the iodine value of POL was reduced from 55.2 to 46.0 while trans fatty acid (TFA) content and slip melting point (SMP) increased from 0% to 7.15% and from 24.0°C to 37.8°C, respectively. The results show that slightly hydrogenated POL had low trans content and appropriate melting ranges for TFM formulations. Interesterification increased both SMP and solid fat contents (SFC) at all measuring temperatures. In conclusion, a combination of POL and its hydrogenated and interesterified forms within certain ranges can be used for the preparation of trans-free base stocks for stick type margarines. The optimum ranges were determined as 40%-50% for interesterified, 10%-30% for hydrogenated and 30%-40% for natural POL.

Plywood from oil palm trunks

Currently, the annual availability of oil palm trunks (OPT) in Malaysia is estimated at around 13.6 million logs based on 100 000 ha of replanting per year. Under specific controlled processing conditions to manufacture oil palm plywood, the total logs available can be converted into 4.5 million cubic metres of plywood. A number of plywood mills have embarked on the use of OPT in the manufacture of plywood. Nevertheless, because of the weaker and less durable veneers, the application of these materials was only as a core layer. Research and development on OPT has been getting much attention from researchers and members of other wood-based industries for which this material has shown exciting potential as an alternative raw material. However, anatomically, OPT is not truly a woody material and this poses a big challenge in how to turn OPT into what has been achieved with rubber wood or other tropical wood in terms of product quality and market acceptability. This article shows that OPT can be used to produce plywood and that its strength properties meet the minimum requirements of the Japanese Standard Method, JAS 233:2003.

Production of oil palm trunk core board with wood veneer lamination

Malaysia has abundant oil palm trunks (OPT) from the replanting cycle of oil palm plantations, and these are convertible into value-added products. The most impending and immediate application is for wood composite products. Unlike softwood or hardwood, OPT has a unique physicochemical structure but is inefficient for use in its natural condition in woody application. In this study, the properties of OPT were upgraded via the formation of a core board and lamination process. OPT, as the core layer, was laminated with rubberwood veneers of two thicknesses using urea formaldehyde resin as a binder at three different levels of glue spread rate, and further hot pressed under three different levels of pressures. Tests for density, static bending, shear and water absorption were carried out in accordance with ASTM Standard. The results show that the board using higher glue spread rate and pressing pressure ended up with higher resistance to water absorption and to dimensional changes. The mechanical properties of the OPT core board laminated with 1.0 mm veneer thickness using 200 g m-² glue spread rate and 80 bar pressing pressure were better than the boards produced by other processing variables.

Determination of hydroxyl value of palm-based polyols by partial least squares algorithm using NIR specstroscopy

Near infra-red (NIR) spectroscopy with partial least square (PLS) regression of the results was developed as a rapid method for the determination of the hydroxyl value (HV) for palm-based polyols. The best NIR PLS calibration models to predict HV were developed in two types of spectral regions, Model 1 at 6500-8100 cm-1 and Model 2 at 4500-10 005 cm-1. For Model 1, the NIR-generated calibration plots had coefficients of determination (R2) of 0.991 and a standard error of calibration (SEC) of 3.23, while the validation plots had R2 of 0.994 and a standard error of prediction (SEP) of 2.96. For Model 2, the calibration plot had R2 of 0.997 and SEC of 2.32, while the validation plots had R2 of 0.998 with SEP of 2.52.

Isolation and functional properties of hemicelluloses from oil palm trunks

Approximately 80% (dry weight) of the total hemicelluloses (xylan) was extracted from oil palm trunks (OPT). Analysis of OPT gave the following composition (dry basis): 42%-45% cellulose, 26%-29% hemicellulose and 16%-18% lignin. Optimisation of the aqueous extraction was done using the following parameters: 3.0 M alkali concentration, 40°C temperature, 4 hr soaking time, 50 g sample with <0.32 mm fibre/dust sieve size. Extracted hemicelluloses were found to have a higher quantity of hemicellulose A (50%) as compared to hemicellulose B (30%). Xylose was found to be the major sugar in each of the fractions, with glucose, arabinose and mannose as minor constituents. The carbohydrate composition of the hemicellulose fraction consisted of xylan, to which other carbohydrates were attached. It was found that hemicellulose B had a higher molecular weight than hemicellulose A, while the intrinsic viscosity for both hemicelluloses was in the range of 0.6-0.7 dL g-1. Both hemicelluloses were not completely soluble in water at elevated temperature, and their water-holding capacity was less than 10%. OPT hemicelluloses exhibited pseudoplastic flow behaviour (‘shear thinning’) and were affected by shear rate and temperature. The extracted hemicelluloses also had a low digestibility using xylanase enzyme

Pre-treatment of palm olein-derived used frying oil as a feedstock for non-food applications

The main focus of this study was to improve the quality of palm olein-derived used frying oil (UFO) as a feedstock for non-food applications using an adsorption process. In addition, the adsorption capability and efficiency of four different adsorbents (activated carbon, activated bleaching earth, silica gel and aluminium oxide) used in treating the oil were assessed. Silica gel, when employed at an optimum treatment level of 20%, was found to be highly effective in the overall improvement of the quality of UFO, leading to significant reductions in free fatty acids (FFA) (percentage improvement, PI = 68.5%), peroxide value (PV) (PI = 85%), anisidine value (An. V) (PI = 33.8%) and total oxidation value (TOTOX) (PI = 45.3%). In terms of adsorption capability in FFA reduction, the Freundlich adsorption isotherm of FFA indicates a similar finding, supporting the pre-treatment of UFO using silica gel with its highest adsorption capacity (K = 1.0017), followed by activated carbon and the other two adsorbents.

Mannitol-induced water deficit stress in oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) seedlings

The aim of this study was to investigate the biochemical, physiological and morphological responses of oil palm seedlings to mannitol-induced water deficit. Proline content and the percentage of relative membrane leakage in seedlings increased when subjected to water deficit, depending on the degree of water deficit. Relative membrane leakage was positively associated with chlorophyll degradation. Chlorophyll a (Chla), chlorophyll b (Chlb), total carotenoids (Cx+c), maximum quantum yield of PSII (Fv/Fm) and photon yield of PSII ( Φ PSU) in the seedlings under water deficit conditions dropped significantly in comparison to the control group, leading to a reduction in net photosynthetic rate (Pn) and growth. In addition, the physiological changes and growth parameters of the plants responding to severe water deficit underwent a greater reduction than those of the plants responding to mild water deficit. These data may be applied to establish criteria for water deficit tolerance screening in breeding programmes.

Microemulsions formed with palm oil-based materials as all-purpose spray liquid cleaners for hand surfaces

This article describes the formation of microemulsions by utilising fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) and a surfactant or mixed surfactant system derived from palm oil-based oleochemicals. The effects of 1,2 hexanediol as a conventional non-toxic co-surfactant were investigated by observing the ternary phase behaviour of palm oil-based microemulsions for three types of surfactant systems, i.e., fatty alcohol ethoxylates 7EO (FAE 7); mixed surfactants FAE 7 and fatty alcohol ethoxylates 2EO (FAE 2) in a 75:25 ratio; and mixed surfactants FAE 7, FAE 2 and methyl ester sulphonate (MES) in a 60:20:20 ratio. The microemulsion (µE) solutions formed were characterised by conductivity, viscosity and droplet-size measurements. The cleaning performance of selected palm oil-based microemulsions as all-purpose spray liquid cleaners for hard surfaces is also reported.

Performance of tenera oil palm population derived from crosses between Deli dura and pisifera from different sources on inland soils

FELDA Agricultural Sdn Bhd (FASSB) has been exploiting various germplasm and advanced materials to broaden the narrow genetic base of its breeding population since 1968. The utilisation of these materials has resulted in more than 200 progeny test trials. From a total of 25 progenies analysed in this study, performance tended to group the teneras, according to their pisifera sources. Cluster analysis shows that the pisifera Dumpy AVROS and La Me were closely related populations in terms of performance while the pisifera Yangambi was the most different pisifera group. The highest bunch weight production was dominated by all the DxP (Yangambi) progenies for the young mature, mature and eight-year mean periods at 130.42, 217.00 and 175.34 kg palm‾¹ yr‾¹, respectively. In addition, DxP (Yangambi) progenies also scored highest for oil to bunch ratio at 29.50%, which differed significantly from the other pisifera sources. The highest bunch index and bunch dry matter were also attained by DxP (Yangambi) progenies at 0.41 and 12.65 t ha‾¹ yr‾¹, respectively. The highly significant differences indicated in the bunch yield, bunch components, vegetative and physiological traits from the analysis of variance revealed the existence of genetic variability among these traits which may allow for further improvement and exploitation.

Fatty amines from palm oil and palm kernel oil

In this article, the most important technologies to produce fatty amines from fatty acids and fatty alcohols are described. Surprisingly, none of these technologies are practised in the palm oil producing countries. While Southeast Asia became the global leader in the field of fatty acids and and fatty alcohols, the area of fatty amines has been completely ignored until now. The reasons for this abstention will be analysed, and possible concepts for a future development of this industry in the region will be evaluated.