Category Archives: 2014 Vol 26 Dec

WATER FOOTPRINT: PART 1 – PRODUCTION OF OIL PALM SEEDLINGS IN PENINSULAR MALAYSIA

The oil palm nursery is the first link in the palm oil supply chain where oil palm seedlings are produced for the cultivation of palms in plantations. The water footprint for this study focuses on the volume of water required for the production of oil palm seedlings in Malaysia, which include direct and indirect water consumption. This study was carried out at 21 nurseries in Peninsular Malaysia for the duration of four years. In this study, the water footprint is expressed as water volume per unit of the product, i.e. m3 t-1 fresh fruit bunch (FFB). This article outlines the components of water footprint which are associated with the production of oil palm seedlings. The methodology used to calculate water footprint for the production of oil palm seedlings was based on water footprint network. The results showed that the direct blue water footprint was 1.57E-01 m3 t-1 FFB, contributed by irrigation water using sprinklers and also the water used for pesticides application. The total indirect blue water footprint contributed by all the inputs such as diesel, electricity and polybags was 1.46E-04 m3 t-1 FFB. Green and grey water footprint was found to be 3.10E-01 and 1.83E-03 m3 t-1 FFB, respectively. From the analysis, it was found that the water footprint for the production of oil palm seedlings were 1.57E-01, 3.10E-01 and 1.83E-03 m3 t-1 FFB for the blue, green and grey components, respectively. Therefore, it could be concluded that the volume of polluted water (grey water footprint) associated with the production of oil palm seedlings was very minimal.

WATER FOOTPRINT: PART 2 – FFB PRODUCTION FOR OIL PALM PLANTED IN MALAYSIA

Water accounting across the production of fresh fruit bunch (FFB) in the oil palm’s life cycle is gaining momentum arising from the importance placed on the need to quantify water footprint (WF). This article quantifies the WF of FFB production from oil palms grown in some areas in Malaysia, from an inventory data gathered from 2009-2012. The WF methodology of Hoekstra et al. (2009) was applied for calculating WF of FFB production. The data for crop evapotranspiration (ET) of 5.5 mm per day (Roslan and Mohd Haniff, 2004) was used to calculate green and blue WF. The results showed that for oil palm, the FFB yield average of 25-year life span was 20.7 t ha-1 yr-1. The FFB production WF was 1166 m3 t-1 FFB (WFgreen, 1055; WFblue, 3.56; and WFgrey, 107 m3 t-1). The results showed that the green WF was higher than the grey or the blue WF as planting of oil palm in Malaysia is without irrigation. Oil palm requires a lot of green water (rain water), but when the amount of rain water is lower than ET, it becomes necessary to determine the water deficit of the soil in the oil palm-growing areas. This is to ensure that any shortcoming of water can be provided through irrigation.

WATER FOOTPRINT: PART 3 – THE PRODUCTION OF CRUDE PALM OIL IN MALAYSIAN PALM OIL MILLS

The Malaysian oil palm industry contributes immensely to the nation’s economy. In 2013 alone the export revenue of palm products reached RM 61.36 billion. The industry is constantly asked to prove the sustainability of its products. Currently, carbon footprint is such a catchphrase in the world that it has become a must for responsible producers to quantify their carbon footprint. The next catchphrase in the environmental front is water footprint. In view of this, there is an imminent need for the oil palm industry to be accountable for its water consumption. This study has a cradle-to-gate system boundary which starts at the oil palm nursery and ends in the palm oil mill. It covers the water footprint of the production of oil palm seedlings; oil palm fresh fruit bunches and the production of crude palm oil. The water footprint network, Hoekstra 2011 methodology is used to determine the water footprint. The functional unit for this study is 1 t crude palm oil (CPO) produced at the palm oil mill. At the palm oil mill, comparison was made for mills that practise dilution versus no dilution and allocation was carried out at the palm oil mill with palm kernel and palm shell which are considered as co-products of the production of CPO. Within the system boundary of the palm oil mill, the highest footprint comes from the blue water for the process. The grey water footprint for 1 t CPO increases when the biological oxygen demand of the final discharge standard decreases to 20 ppm as compared to 100 ppm. There was a reduction in the water footprint if the mills did not practise dilution. For the cradle-to-gate system boundary, the highest water footprint came from the green water footprint in the plantation for the production of fresh fruit bunch (FFB). This is natural as the oil palm is a perennial crop with an economic life cycle of 25 years and so it is quite natural to have high green water. However, this green water comes from the rain as the oil palm are rain fed and not irrigated. The contribution from nursery is very small. The best option for mills is to avoid dilution during process to obtain the best water footprint.

MODIFIED RNA in situ HYBRIDISATION PROTOCOL FOR OIL PALM (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) FRUIT AND INFLORESCENCE

A modified RNA in situ hybridisation method was tested on oil palm fruits and inflorescences. This method was efficient in preserving the morphology of tissues and preventing tissue damage due to dryness and shrinkage. The tissues were dehydrated with absolute 1-butanol followed by vacuuming with molten paraffin at 60οC. The in situ hybridisation analyses were carried out with sense and antisense probes of ELF1-α to examine and compare the condition of these tissues treated with the modified and the standard methods. The modified method showed that the permeability of tissues increased with absolute 1-butanol treatment and application of vacuum at 60οC facilitated penetration of the molten paraffin into the centre of the tissues. This resulted in well preserved tissues that remained intact during sectioning.

DIFFERENTIALLY EXPRESSED TRANSCRIPTS RELATED TO HEIGHT IN OIL PALM

A subtractive cDNA library was constructed using MPOB Planting Series 1 (PS1) population to isolate differentially expressed transcripts associated with height increment in oil palm. After differential screening, 98 clones were identified to be potentially positive with cDNA inserts ranging from 250 to 1000 bp. A total of 123 sequences generated and low quality sequences ≤ 20 were eliminated using Phred program to assess the sequence quality and determine the accurate consensus sequence. Contig assembly by CAP3 program generated 51 contigs and four singletons (55 unigenes). Blast search showed 49 unique sequences had significant match to various plant species in the GeneBank database with E-value ≤ 1e- 5, and four sequences showed no significant similarity. Gene ontology analysis output from Blast2GO program revealed that the sequences encoding for auxin responsive protein, circadian clock-associated protein1, zinc-finger protein and basic leucine zipper protein were potentially associated to dwarfism. The genes were identified based on their putative functions in regulating height in plants, particularly in growth hormone biosynthesis such as auxin (Aux/IAA), gibberellins (GA) and brassinosteroids (BR).

LEPCON-1, BAFOG-1 (S) AND ECOBAC-1 (EC), Bacillus thuringiensis BASED-PRODUCTS ARE NOT TOXIC AGAINST THE FRESHWATER FISH, Tilapia nilotica

The aim of the ecotoxicity test was to investigate the effect of Lepcon-1, Bafog-1 (S) and Ecobac-1 (EC) against the freshwater fish, Tilapia nilotica. The ecotoxicity test assessed the toxicity of these products by exposing T. nilotica to various concentrations of the sample. Media preparation and toxicity test was done according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 203 Fish, Acute Toxicity Test (OECD) Guidelines for Testing of Chemicals (1992). The results showed that the exposure of Lepcon-1, Bafog-1 (S) and Ecobac-1 (EC), each product at 320 mg litre-1, did not cause any mortality to T. nilotica after 96 hr of exposure. Therefore, these three products are considered non-toxic to T. nilotica.

EFFECT OF DIFFERENT ALKALINE TREATMENT ON THE RELEASE OF FERULIC ACID FROM OIL PALM EMPTY FRUIT BUNCH FIBRES

Serious thought on sustainability of palm oil industry triggers ways to minimise the impacts caused to the environment by recycling oil palm empty fruit bunch (OPEFB). An alkaline treatment strategy was developed for ferulic acid (FA) release from OPEFB fibres. The selected treatment of autoclaving OPEFB (120°C, 3 hr) and hydrolysing it with 20 g kg-1 NaOH (90°C, 3 hr) yielded 62.52 ± 6.24 mg litre-1 FA. Based on alkali selection (5 to 50 g kg-1 of NaOH, KOH and K2CO3), 20 g kg-1 KOH showed almost similar FA release to 20 g kg-1 of NaOH, as it solubilised 56.94 ± 3.52 mg litre-1 FA. The addition of sodium bisulphite (NaHSO3) resulted in an increase of 4.23 mg litre-1 FA using KOH treatment. FA decreased when subjected to prolonged reaction times at high temperature, while at ambient temperature, only about 30 to 35 mg litre-1 FA was released. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) analysis showed evidence of decrease in aromatic groups, lignin and ester linkage stretching. The selected treatment method using 20 g kg-1 NaOH and KOH solubilised 4.24 mg and 3.84 mg FA from 1 g of OPEFB lignin, respectively. From this finding, OPEFB exhibited a great potential as a feedstock for FA production. FA obtained from this treatment is very useful precursor for vanilic acid, vanillin and other value-added products formation through microbial conversion.

EFFECT OF BLENDING ON PHYSICO-CHEMICAL PROPERTIES OF PALM OIL AND PALM OIL PRODUCTS WITH SOYABEAN OIL

Palm stearin is a co-product of olein production. There is a considerable potential for the use of palm stearin in the edible food industry if the physical and chemical properties can be modified. In this study, palm oil, soft and hard stearins were blended with 10% to 90% (w/w) of soyabean oil. The slip melting point (SMP), iodine value (IV), solid fat content (SFC), fatty acid composition (FAC), polymorphic form and morphological properties of the blends were determined. Results showed that there was an increase in linoleic acid (C18:2) content and a decrease in palmitic acid (C16:0) in all the blends. The SMP of the blends decreased while the IV increased with the addition of soyabean oil. A gradual decrease in % SFC was also observed in the blends containing hard stearin with higher amount of soyabean oil. The crystals obtained were observed to be stabilised in the β polymorphic form and became more plate-like with higher ratios of soyabean oil added.

MINIMISING POST-HARDENING IN PALM OIL/SUNFLOWER OIL SOFT MARGARINE FORMULATION BY OPTIMISING PROCESSING CONDITIONS

The occurrence of post-hardening in margarine and shortening could lead to serious quality problem resulting in the rejection of the product. Choice of the oils and fats, processing conditions, transportation and storage are some of the common causes of the problem. The effects of processing parameters, obtained from the response surface methodology (RSM) experimental design, on the product consistencies, expressed in yield values (g cm-2), were studied. Simple margarine blend of palm and sunflower oils was used as the model sample. Variation in the process conditions employed in the study produced margarines with significant differences in their consistencies at 5°C, 10°C, 15°C and 20°C. Soft margarine of desired consistency could be produced by varying the throughput speed up to 60 kg hr-1, together with the increase in speed of SSHE1 and SSHE2 at > 500 rpm, while at low throughput <60 kg hr-1, a high pin-rotor speed should be adopted.

RECENT PROGRESS FOR LIPASE-CATALYSED SYNTHESIS OF SUGAR FATTY ACID ESTERS

Sugar fatty acid esters, important biobased value-added emulsifiers in foods, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products, are typically prepared using high temperatures (>100oC) and in the presence of organic solvents. A more environmental sustainable approach is to employ biocatalysis, particularly lipases, for their preparation, leading to reduced solvent usage, lower temperatures, and lower generation of waste products. In order for lipase-catalysed synthesis to be a robust alternative to chemical synthesis, several technical barriers need to be overcome, particularly the difficulty in co-solubilising acyl donor and acceptor, leading to a lower reaction rate. This article reviews two recent approaches to overcome the latter barrier via formation of suspensions of saccharide particles, in ionic liquids for one case and in solvent-free reaction media in another. The former provides 10-100-fold higher saccharide concentration, hence more rapid enzyme kinetics; but, both suspension types yield similar values for productivity (moles of product per mass of enzyme per time). The solvent-free approach offers improved enzyme activity retention, minimal requirements for downstream purification, and the absence of costs associated with solvent usage and recovery. Other recent trends for the enzymatic synthesis of sugar esters are also reviewed, particularly the utilisation of oligomeric acyl acceptors and new biocatalysts.

OIL-IN-WATER EMULSION (EW) OF MIXED GLYPHOSATE ISOPROPYLAMINE (IPA) AND TRICLOPYR BUTOXYETHYLESTER (BEE) STABILISED BY PALM-BASED EMULSIFIERS FOR WEED CONTROL

Conventionally, an emulsifiable concentrate (EC)-triclopyr butoxyethylester (BEE) is tank-mixed with glyphosate isopropylamine (IPA) prior to spray application for the effective control of mixed weeds in plantation areas, such as oil palm and rubber plantations. However, the EC-triclopyr BEE is a petroleumbased formulation that can cause hazards to both the spray operators’ health and the environment. Thus, incorporation of two herbicide actives in the oil-in-water emulsion (EW) system is a new approach to maximise the coverage of weed control and also being safe to the spray operators and the environment. The EW herbicide formulations containing two herbicide actives, i.e., 28% glyphosate IPA and 4.5% triclopyr BEE, were prepared by mixing non-ionic surfactants: DISPONIL OC 25 (or DISPONIL) and Dehydol LS 2EO (or DLS 2) with varying hydrophyl lipophyl balance (HLB) values (10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16.5). The oil phase used was C12-18 palm methyl esters (PME). The accelerated thermal stability studies at 45oC for two weeks showed that the EW formulation prepared at HLB 12±1 was the optimum formulation with particles sizes in a range of 13 -15 μm. The EW formulation showed lower surface tensions than the commercially available herbicides, such as Roundup®, Comet, and a mixture of Roundup® and Comet. In biological efficacy studies, the EW-herbicides formulation and the conventional herbicides were applied to Paspalum conjugatum (grassy-weed), Asystasia gangetica (broad leaved-weed) and Clidemia hirta (woody-weed) at the same dose of glyphosate IPA (615 g ai ha-1) and triclopyr BEE (99 g ai ha-1). The EW formulation showed comparable and/or better performance as the commercial herbicide formulations in controlling grassy, broad leaved and woody weeds.