Category Archives: 2017 Vol 29 Sept

ESTIMATING NUMBERS OF OIL PALM (Elaeis guineensis) POLLEN GRAINS USING IMAGE ANALYSIS AND PROCESSING

Elaeidobius kamerunicus is the most important oil palm pollinator in Indonesia and Malaysia. However, the mechanism and efficiency of pollen transfer by this weevil are clearly not understood. The lack of study on pollination process in oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) is mostly caused by difficulties in pollen counting due to their small size. Most of the counting was conducted manually which is prone to mistakes, required extensive training, and time-consuming. The aim of this study is to provide a novel technique for counting pollen that is rapid, consistent, and efficient with a comparable accuracy to manual counting. Male and female of E. kamerunicus were collected from male and female oil palm inflorescences (N=60). Extracted pollen were placed and distributed in a flat microscope slide separated by designated observation chambers. Images of each chamber were captured as a JPEG format and analysed by ImageJ. Multiple macros were constructed for image processing steps to obtain the pollen numbers. Comparison with manual counting using paired T-test, Pearson’s correlation and linear regression showed a high similarity between both methods.

LEGITIMACY ASSESSMENT OF POLLEN WITH SIMPLE SEQUENCE REPEATS MARKERS

It is essential that only good quality planting materials are used in oil palm breeding and commercial seed
production. Best parents are usually selected from the best families for commercial production. Stringent
quality measures of seed had already been employed to produce high quality planting materials. However,
pollination with illegitimate pollen still arise in oil palm breeding programme and compromise quality of
planting materials. To date, legitimacy of pollen is traced through data recording. Therefore, illegitimate
pollen due to errors occur during pollen processing may have been overlooked. Concurring genotyping
profiles generated by panel of Simple Sequence Repeats (SSR) markers in leaf and pollen grains of the same
palm, facilitate assessment of pollen legitimacy. Utilisation of this assessment may exclude utilisation of
illegitimate pollen in oil palm breeding programme and improve the quality of breeding procedure.

BIOLOGICAL AGENTS AND INSECTICIDES TO CONTROL BUNCH MOTH, Tirathaba rufivena IN OIL PALM ESTATES IN SARAWAK, MALAYSIA

The effectiveness of biological products and insecticides in controlling the infestation of Tirathaba rufivena in oil palm estates in Sarawak, Malaysia was evaluated. The study was conducted in two sites from November 2014 to May 2015 on oil palm aged 4 and 5 years. The treatments tested in both sites were commercially available and MPOB-produced Bacillus thuringiensis product, Metarhizium anisopliae, chlorantraniliprole and cypermethrin. The study showed that the first and second instar larvae of bunch moth were found mostly on male inflorescences, and the third and fourth instar larvae were found on female inflorescences and developing bunches. All treatments were effective in reducing the larval population of bunch moth as early as seven days after the first treatment (DAFT). However, the larval population at plots treated with B. thuringiensis recorded inconsistent results. In Site 1, it was observed that only the commercial B. thuringiensis was able to control the larval population of bunch moth up to 34 DAFT. Whereas in Site 2, both B. thuringiensis and Metarhizium anisopliae products gave control as good as chemicals up to 49 DAFT. Chlorantraniliprole application gave rapid reduction and was able to reduce and maintain low population of bunch moth up to 59 days after the last spraying. A more comprehensive study is needed to be carried out by incorporating other control measures such as mass trapping of adults and spraying of larvae using biological and chemical products in the coastal peat areas.

DIET PREFERENCES AND REPRODUCTION OF TRANSLOCATED BARN OWL, Tyto alba javanica IN CAPTIVITY

Five non-paired-translocated wild caught barn owl (Tyto alba javanica) transferred from Jerantut, Pahang in Peninsular to Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia were tested for diet preference by size, and species and fecundity in captivity. Testing was done in flight cages where owls were free to select from a combination of three local rodent species distinguished into two size categories; large and small. Jacobs’ index confirmed that smaller rats were taken in greater numbers and took the shortest number of days to 100% consumption at Day 5 than larger ones. Preference for body parts consumed varied according to diet size and species. In the same period as the prey preference study, two females reproduced twice ranging from intervals of 44 to 63 days with an average clutch size of 6.8 eggs. Hatching rates ranged from 0% to 83% and fledging rates ranged from 0% to 75%. These results may have practical importance in the propagation of barn owls in their new environment as they will be exposed to different prey in terms of species and size range.

ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITIES OF Elaeis guineensis LEAVES

Fresh leaves from Elaeis guineensis fronds were subjected to ultrasonic-assisted methanol extraction. The crude methanolic extract (MeOH) was then fractionated by repeated extractions, sequentially with solvents of different polarity into n-hexane (HEX), ethyl acetate (EA), water (WATER) and insoluble residue (INSOL) fractions. The antioxidant activity of the crude extract and its fractions was evaluated by in vitro 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical-scavenging activity, lipid peroxidation (LPO) inhibition and beta-carotene bleaching assays. Total phenolic contents (TPC) in the fractions were determined with Folin-Ciocalteu reagent. The results indicated that the INSOL fraction showed the highest activity in DPPH radical-scavenging activity assay and beta-carotene bleaching assay, while EA fraction exhibited highest activity through LPO inhibition. DPPH radical-scavenging activity of the fractions was negatively correlated (correlation coefficients = -0.896, -0.943 respectively, P < 0.050) with the TPC based on Pearson Product Moment Correlation and Spearman Rank Order Correlation. The findings of present study suggests that oil palm leaves have high potential to be utilised as natural source of antioxidants in palm oil producing countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, where oil palm leaves are abundantly available.

DOES SOIL COMPACTION AFFECT OIL PALM STANDING BIOMASS?

Soil compaction could be either desirable or detrimental to plant growth, depending on the severity of
compaction. The compaction treatments applied in this study on a coastal alluvial soil, Bernam series (Typic Endoaquepts) had resulted in significant reduction of oil palm total standing biomass in compacted plots. The oil palm total above-ground standing biomass comprising of fronds and trunk in the control plots was significantly higher than the compacted plots by 12%. Even though there was no significance difference in trunk heights, the palms were taller in 4T plots (tractor with 4 t trailer weight). Palms in compacted plots exhibited a significantly smaller trunk diameter, lower trunk dry weight and reduction in the frond dry weight by about 9%, 8% and 6%, respectively. The total green frond number, total leaf area and leaf area index (LAI) were not significantly different (p≤0.05) between the treatments. Total green frond number per palm was 33 to 35 fronds per palm. The LAI averaged more than 5 for all treatments implying compaction did not hinder photosynthesis process. Hence, the changes in soil physical properties such as bulk density, porosity, available water and hydraulic properties were considered not limiting to palm growth as they adapted well to the compaction treatments.

PERFORMANCE OF OIL PALM LOOSE FRUITS SEPARATING MACHINE

Oil palm loose fruits contain a high amount of oil, hence they need to be fully collected. Handpicking may be the ideal way to get clean fruits but this practice is inefficient. Raking is a faster option to gather scattered fruits but the trash that comes together during the gathering process is high. The oil palm loose fruits separating machine offers a mean to separate loose fruits from trash using vibration and airstream principles. Parameters that were observed included productivity, time-motion, loose fruits cleanliness and noise levels produced by the machine. It was observed that the machine was able to separate the loose fruits from the trash effectively with 98.9% cleanliness and at the productivity of 30.6 kg of clean loose fruits in 99.9 s. However, the machine produced a sound level above 90 dB during operation, hence, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is required. With the introduction of separating machine, it is anticipated that the productivity of the current collection of loose fruits can be increased, hence, contribute to higher national oil extraction rate (OER).

ASSESSMENT OF OIL PALM WOOD QUALITY IMPROVEMENT THROUGH INTEGRATED TREATMENT PROCESS AS FUNCTION OF SAWING PATTERN AND SLAB THICKNESS

Oil palm wood (OPW) was treated using six-step integrated treatment process in this study. The method consists of six processing steps, namely, debarking-sawing, steaming and compression, drying, resin inclusion, resin semi-curing heating and hot pressing. The objective of this study was to evaluate the properties of the OPW produced from two different sawing patterns, namely reverse cant sawing and polygon sawing. The OPW was sawn into waned and squared slabs using reverse cant sawing and polygon sawing, respectively. The sawn slabs were then planed to thicknesses of 40, 60 and 80 mm, respectively. Dimensional stability and mechanical properties of the treated OPW were evaluated after the slabs had undergone the six processing steps. Density and weight percent gain of the treated OPW were also determined. From the results obtained, OPW produced from waned samples showed better mechanical properties and dimensional stability in comparison to that of OPW produced from squared samples. In conclusion, reverse cant sawing pattern is a more appropriate sawing technique to obtain better quality OPW.

SYNTHESIS OF NOVEL EUTECTIC CATALYST FOR THE ESTERIFICATION OF CRUDE PALM OIL MIXED WITH SLUDGE PALM OIL

In this study, a new eutectic solvent (ES) was synthesised for the first time via mixing (1R)-(-)-camphor-10-sulphonic acid (10-CSA) with choline chloride (ChCl). Camphor-10-sulphonic acid choline chloride eutectic solvent (CSA-ChCl-ES) was used as a catalyst in the esterification reaction of an oil mixture consisting of acidic crude palm oil and sludge palm oil in order to reduce the free fatty acid (FFA) content to less than 2%. The optimal reaction conditions were as follows: 2.5 wt% of catalyst dosage, 10:1 molar ratio, 60°C of reaction temperature and 40 min of reaction time. This study revealed that the novel eutectic solvent possessed high catalytic activity and recyclability, hence highlighting its high potential for biodiesel production.

EMISSIONS ANALYSIS ON DIESEL ENGINE FUELED WITH PALM OIL BIODIESEL AND PENTANOL BLENDS

This study examined the effects of pentanol, palm oil biodiesel blends of varying proportions on the emissions pattern in a constant speed diesel engine. The main intention of this study was to investigate the reductions in HC, CO, NOX and smoke emissions when deploying four different fuels. The conversion of palm oil into biodiesel was achieved using the base catalysed transesterification process. The four different fuels evaluated were neat palm oil biodiesel (POBD100), pentanol blended with palm oil biodiesel by 10% volume (POBD90P10), palm oil biodiesel blended with pentanol (POBD80P20) by 20% volume and petroleum diesel. The experimental work concluded that by fuelling the diesel engine with palm oil biodiesel and pentanol blends, combustions were smooth. It was observed that the pentanol to palm oil biodiesel blend gave respective reduction of 9.3%, 3.8%, 6.6% and 2.7% in CO, HC, NOX and smoke emissions when compared to neat palm oil biodiesel.

EFFECTS OF PALM OIL PRODUCTS ON GROWTH PERFORMANCE, BODY COMPOSITION AND FATTY ACID PROFILE OF JUVENILE MALAYSIAN MAHSEER (Tor tambroides)

This study was performed to investigate the effects of different types of palm oil on the survival, growth performance, body indices, lean percentage, body composition and fatty acid profile of juvenile Malaysian mahseer, Tor tambroides. Four extruded diets containing 5% crude palm oil (CPO), refined, bleached, deodorised palm oil (RBDPO), RBD palm olein (RBDPOo) and RBD palm stearin (RBDPOs) were prepared. Triplicate groups of T. tambroides juveniles (1.65 ± 0.6 g) were stocked in 60 litres aquaria at 20 fish per aquarium and fed the diets for 12 weeks. Fish fed CPO and RBDPOs diet showed the best feed conversion ratio (FCR), while the lowest viscero-somatic index (VSI) was observed in juveniles fed RBDPOo and RBDPOs. A significantly higher (P<0.05) protein and gross energy retention were observed in juveniles fed RBDPOs compared to those fed RBDPO. The highest muscular retention of n-3 and n-6 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 and n-6 LC-PUFA) was observed in juveniles fed CPO diet. In addition to giving a higher PUFA ratio in mahseer muscle than other palm oil products, CPO was the most cost effective palm oil type and was recommended as the lipid source in the diet of T. tambroides juvenile.

SYNTHESIS OF NOVEL OLIGOMERIC POLYOLS FROM EPOXIDISED METHYL OLEATE AND EPOXIDISED PALM OLEIN FOR ELASTIC POLYURETHANE PRODUCTS

Novel oligomeric polyols were synthesised from epoxidised methyl oleate (EMO) and epoxidised palm olein (EPOo) through epoxide ring opening polymerisation catalysed by boron trifluoride diethyl etherate (BF3. Et2O). The properties of these oligomeric polyols were affected by the degree of epoxide of the feedstock as well as reaction conditions (monomer concentration, catalyst amount, reaction temperature and duration). Gel permeation chromatography (GPC) analysis showed that the oligomeric content of the synthesised oligomeric polyols were in the range of 85% – 90% and the number average molecular weight (Mn) of the oligomeric polyols were between 1900 Da and 16 100 Da depending on the feedstock. In addition, mass spectrometry, Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analyses revealed that the oligomeric polyols were dimer and higher oligomers of feedstock linked by ether groups. These oligomeric polyols have desirable low acid values, which were less than 1 mg KOH g-1 and hydroxyl values in between 35 to 45 mg KOH g-1. The oligomeric polyols made from EPOo was mixed with polyethylene glycol (PEG 3350) and reacted with diisocyanate to form polyurethane (PU) sample with good elastomeric properties.

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT ON METHYL ESTER PRODUCTION FROM PALM FEEDSTOCK: A CASE STUDY

Methyl esters, derived from natural fats or oils, can be used as alternatives to fatty acids in the production of a number of oleochemicals and their derivatives. Methyl esters are widely used as feedstock for production of other oleochemicals, such as fatty alcohol, alkanolamides, methyl ester sulphonates, isopropyl esters, sucrose polyesters and many more. This Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study was conducted to identify the environmental impacts from the production of methyl ester using refined, bleached and deodorised palm stearin (RBDPOs) feedstock through transesterification process. The results showed that the most significant impact categories from the production of methyl ester were fossil fuels, respiratory inorganics and climate change. The main contributors to these impacts came from the production of RBDPOs, methanol and steam. These environmental impacts/contributions may be reduced and improved if a green technology is implemented, i.e. by replacing the existing sources of energy that are mainly used for boiler system and energy generation at plant (natural gas and electricity from grid) with renewable resources, e.g. biomass that are abundantly available in the plantation. In addition, bio-methanol may also be considered as an alternative source to replace the methanol from fossil origin in order to reduce the dependency on fossil materials in the future.

RHEOLOGICAL PROPERTIES OF SELECTED FOOD PRODUCTS IN THE MALAYSIAN MARKET

Food products are complicated mixtures of ingredients which can be scientifically described by rheological measurements. The aim of this study is to evaluate the rheological properties, spreadability and microstructure of commercial processed foods, namely chocolate spread, cheese, chicken rice paste, mayonnaise and chocolate syrup. Cheese, chocolate spread, and mayonnaise had storage modulus (Gʹ) higher than loss modulus (Gʹʹ) indicating viscoelastic properties and semi-solid form. These products also had compact crystal networking, with Gʹ remaining constant is called the linear viscoelastic region (LVR) and started to drop at higher applied forces (shear stress) as compared to chicken rice paste and chocolate syrup. The oscillatory sweeps test indicated that the viscoelasticity of the products were very much dependent on the type of foods and their microstructural properties. These attributes may also help manufacturers decide on the proper product packaging, storage and method of serving. Therefore, the information obtained from this study would help the food manufacturers to have a better understanding of simple rheological and microstructural properties, which are closely related to the final product properties in terms texture, spreadability and shelf-life.

USAGE OF PALM OIL, PALM KERNEL OIL AND THEIR FRACTIONS AS CONFECTIONERY FATS – Review Article

Palm oil, palm kernel oil and their fractions are currently being used globally in food products because of their versatility and cost-effectiveness. They are widely used in various food applications such as cooking oils, margarines, shortenings and vanaspati. In addition, they are vastly utilised in the confectionery industry especially in the chocolate confectionery. Due to the high price and inconsistent supply of cocoa butter, palm oil, palm kernel oil and their fractions have been used to produce cocoa butter alternatives (CBA) namely; cocoa butter equivalent (CBE), cocoa butter replacer (CBR) and cocoa butter substitutes (CBS) in which each one has its own strength for different confectionery applications. Technological developments in fractionation, interesterification and hydrogenation have brought palm oil, palm kernel oil and their fractions to a higher level of usage in the chocolate confectionery industry. Compilation of studies have shown that CBE, CBR and CBS can be produced from various technological paths to obtain the desired requirements. In addition, palm oil and its fractions are also suitable for other confectionery applications such as soft chocolate, chocolate syrup, ice cream coating and confectionery filling.