Refinery of Palm Oil Jit Kang’s Homepage Introduction to Palm Oil: From dust to dawn The economical history

of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) began in the rain forests of western Africa in the late 19th century. Since its introduction into Malaysia in the early 20th century until the early sixties its impact on the economy was marginal. For many years the economy of Malaysia had depended for its wealth and prosperity upon rubber. In 1961, Malaysia embarked on an intensive agricultural diversification program, and the crop that has achieved the most notable success since then is palm oil. Within a relatively short period, Malaysia became the world's largest commercial producer and exporter of palm oil in 1966. Diversification into oil palm means that the country is now less dependent on the fortunes of rubber as a plantation crop. Palm Oil a Cost Effective Product Palm oil is obtained from the flesh of the palm fruit. Each palm tree produces approximately one fruit bunch, containing as many as 3000 fruitlets, per month. In addition, each palm tree continues producing fruit economically for up to 25 years. This ensures a constant stable supply, as compared with other annual crops. Naturally, palm oil is characterized as stabilized oil due to its chemical composition. As such, it can be used in most food applications without hydrogenation, thus, reducing production cost by as much as 30%. Palm oil also is priced competitively and can represent a saving of upto several cents per pound, compared to other edible oils.

The rest of the fruit comprises the shell. kernel. mono and diglycerides. fractionated palm olein and pal mid-fraction. Free fatty acids. Tryglyceride It is a chemical compound of one molecule of glycerol bound to three molecules of Fatty Acid. moisture and other non fatty fiber. the range of products is available to suit a variety of manufacturing needs and in forms that are ready-to-use and require no further processing. CH2 – OH CH – OH + + R1-COOH R2-COOH CH2 – COOR1 CH – COOR2 + 3H2O .Palm oil is available in a variety of forms: crude palm oil. present abundantly through out the whole Peninsular. 1. palm stearin. dirt and minor components of non oil fatty matter referred to collectively as unsaponifiable matter. palm olein. While most of the oil Malaysia exports is RBD palm oil and RBD palm olein. moisture. There are a few varieties of this plant but Tenera. Palm oil like all natural fats and oils comprises mainly Triglyceries. RBD palm oil. The mesocarp comprises about 70 .The extracted oil is known as crude palm oil (CPO) which until quite recently was known as the golden commodity.80% by weight of the fruit and about 45 -50% of this mesocarp is oil. Palm Oil Composition Palm oil is extracted from the mesocarp of the fruit of the palm Elaeis guineensis. which is a hybrid of the Dura and the Pisifera.

0% .1% .1. The property of a triglyceride will depend on the different fatty acids that combine to form the triglyceride.5% .2% .9% 2. Whereas.0. The fatty acids themselves are different depending on their chain length and degree of saturation. Mono and di-glycerides and FFA .44. The 2 most predominant fatty acids in palm oil are C16:0(saturated) palmitic acid and C18:1 (unsaturated) oleic acid.CH2 – OH Glycerol + R3-COOH Fatty Acid CH2 – COOR3 Triglyceride Water The fatty acids could be of the same type or they could be different. the longer chain fatty acids have higher melting points. The melting point is also dependent on degree of non-saturation.1% . Unsaturated acids will have a lower melting point compared to saturated fatty acids of similar chain length.2% . Typical fatty acid composition of palm oil is given as: C12:0 Lauric C14:0 Myrstic C16:0 Palmitic C18:0 Stearic C18:1 Oleic C18:2 Linoleic Others . The short chain fatty acids are of lower melting point and are more soluble in water.

4. Hydrolysis can be represented as below: CH2 – COOR1 + + H2O CH2 – OH CH – COOR2 CH2 – COOR3 Water Diglyceride FFA CH – COOR2 + R1COOH CH2 – COOR3 Triglyceride + Mono and diglycerides account for about 3 to 6% by weight of the glycerides in the oil.In the presence of heat and water the triglycerides break up by a process known as hydrolysis to form free fatty acids thus yielding mono and di-glycerides and FFA which is of crucial importance to the refiners. Good oils having lower amount of mono and diglycerides is said to be of great importance in the fractionation process because they act as emulsifying agents inhibiting crystal formation and making filtration difficult. The amount of mono and diglycerides and FFA is reduced in the process of refining as can be seen from their concentration in the DFA(Distillate Fatty Acid). Minor Component . Moisture and Dirt This is a result of milling practice. 3. Good milling will reduce moisture and dirt in palm oil but normally it is in the range of 0.25%.

Polar Lipids e. palm oil is a rich source of the anti-oxidant vitamin E containing about 360 – 600 ppm in its refined form. Impurities As a conclusion. Beside. Tocopherols c. . They are referred to as unsaponifiable matter and they include the following: a. some of these nonglycerides need to be either removed or reduced to acceptable levels. small and variable portions of non-glyceride components as well. like other oils in their crude form. Recent scientific studies indicate that consumption of monounsaturated has some beneficial effects in order to maintain a healthy life style. There are certain reports show that: • Palm oil did not increase baseline serum cholesterol • Palm oil did not affect LDL/HDL ratio. it contains more monounsaturated fatty acids than many other vegetable oils. palm oil is one of the most widely consumed edible oils in the world today. Physical Refinery: The first step toward edibility Palm oils consist mainly of glycerides and.These are classified into one category because they are fatty in nature but are not really oils. In order to render the oils to an edible form. Carotineoids b. • The vitamin E found in palm oil behaved as an anti-oxidant. In addition. Sterols d. compared with other vegetable oils.

In term of solubility study – glycerides are of two broad types: oil insoluble and oil soluble. the major constituents of carotenoids. oxidation products and sterols are more difficult to remove and thus. The oil soluble non-glycerides which include free fatty acids. The insoluble impurities consisting of fruit fibres.01% Shell Trace Moisture and Impurities 0. tocopherols or tocotrienols. but also have nutritional attributes. are precursors of vitamin A. nut shells and free moisture mainly. where possible.15% Trace metal 0. phosphotides) 300 ppm Dirt 0.5% Gums (phospholipids. colour and keep ability and thus influence the oil’s usefulness. phospholipids. are readily removed. which is detrimental to flavour and keep ability of the finished oil. a. the oil needs to undergo various stages of refining.50% Oxidation Products Trace Total Carotenoids 500 . losses in the desirable component are kept minimal. trace metals. carotenoids. The tocopherols and tocotrienols not only help to protect the oil from oxidation. This also means that. odour. The impurities which are contained in the crude palm oil (CPO) is shown in table 1.1000 mg/ke .0: Substances Content Free Fatty Acid (FFA) 3 . The aim of refining is therefore to convert the crude oil to quality edible oil by removing objectionable impurities to the desired levels in the most efficient manner. Not all of the above non-glyceride components are undesirable.and b-carotene. The other impurities generally are detrimental to the oil’s flavour.

there is about 20% of the CPO feed to into the slurry and mix with the bleaching earth (6 – 12kg/ton CPO) to form slurry (CPO + Bleaching earth). There are two routes are taken to process crude oil into refined oil. Physical refining. The agitator inside the slurry tank will mixed the CPO and bleaching earth completely. After that. another 80% of the CPO is pumped through another plate heat exchanger (PHE) and steam heater to increase the CPO temperature to 90 – 130°C (it is a desired temperature for the reaction between CPO and phosphoric acid). The initial temperature of CPO is at 40 – 60°C.0 Composition of CPO General speaking. At the same time. which are chemical (basic) refining and physical refining. Then. CPO is feed at the flow rate about 35-60 tons/hour. the CPO feed is pumped to static . The refining of physical plant is practiced to subject the oil to steam distillation. involves subjecting the oil to steam distillation under higher temperature and vacuum for removal of the free fatty acids. Physical Refinery Process Description The raw material which is used by physical plant is crude palm oil (CPO) from the CPO storage tank. the slurry will go into the bleacher.0.Table 1. that is plate heat exchanger to increase the temperature around 60 – 90°C. The feed is pumped through the heat recovery system. the refining routes of palm oil is quite identical. The methods differ basically in the way the fatty acids are removed from the oil. which eliminates the need for an effluent plant for the soap stock. Then. The typical refining process is shown in Figure 1. The physical refining is used to remove the free fatty acids.

trace metals. The practice of bleaching involves the addition of bleaching earth to remove any undesirable impurities (all pigments. The temperature must be maintain at around 80 – 120°C for good filtration process.45 kg/ton. Bleached palm oil (BPO) from Niagara filter is then pumped into buffer tank as a temporary storage before further processing. pro-oxidant metal ions. In the bleacher. the intensive mixing is carried out with the crude oil for precipitation up the gums. oxidation products) from CPO and this improves the initial taste. In the Niagara filter. The low pressure steam is purged into bleacher to agitate the concentrated slurry for a better bleaching condition. trap filter is used in series with the Niagara filter to double ensure that no bleaching earth slips occur.35 – 0. It also helps to overcome problems in subsequent processing by adsorption of soap traces. Inside there. the slurry passes through the filter leaves and the bleaching earth is trapped on the filter leaves. The degumming CPO then will go into bleacher. final flavor and oxidative stability of product. The precipitation of gums will ease the later filtration process. and adsorbs other minor impurities. a second check filter. The slurry containing the oil and bleaching earth is then passed through the Niagara filter to give a clean. the bleaching earth must be clear from Niagara filter after45minutes in operation to get a good filtration. colour reduction. The temperature inside the bleacher must be around 100°C – 130°C to get the optimum bleaching process for 30 minutes of bleaching period. decomposes peroxides.mixers and the phosphoric acid is dosed at 0. Usually. The . there are 20% slurry and 80% degummed CPO will mix together and the bleaching process occur. avoid the scale formation in deodorizer and heating surface. free from bleaching earth particles oil. Actually.

All materials if contact are stainless steel. A vacuum of less than 10 torr is usually maintained by the use of ejectors and boosters.presence of bleaching earth fouls deodorizer. The BPO comes out from the filter and passes through another series of heat recovery system. Deodorization is a high temperature. In the pre-stripping and deodorizing column. This test indicates whether any leaking is occurring in Niagara filter or trap filter. any corrective actions can be taken intermediately. The lower molecular weight of vaporized fatty acids rises up the . aldehydes and ketones which are responsible for unacceptable odor and flavors. it is deodorized to produce a product which is stable and bland in flavor. the “blue test” is carried out for each batch of filtration to ensure the perfect filtration process. A deodorizer operates in the following manner: (1) dearates the oil. Schmidt plate heat exchanger and spiral (thermal oil: 250 – 305°C) heat exchanger to heat up the BPO from 80 – 120°C until 210 – 250°C. the oil is generally heated to approximately 240 – 280°C under vacuum. The use of direct steam ensures readily removal of residue free fatty acids. deacidification and deodorization process happen concurently. high vacuum and steam distillation process. Heat bleaching of the oil occurs at this temperature through the thermal destruction of the carotenoid pigments. (3) steam strips the oil and (4)cools the oil before it leaves the system. So. In the column. Hence. reduces the oxidative stability of the product oil and acts as a catalyst for dimerizaition and polymerization activities. The hot BPO from spiral heat exchanger then proceeds to the next stage where the free fatty acid content and the color are further reduced and more important. (2) heat up the oil.

Palm Fatty Acid Distillation Plant The separation of liquid mixture into their several components is one of the major process of the chemical industries. The fatty acids then is cooled in the fatty acid cooler and discharged to the fatty acid storage tank with temperature around 60 – 80°C as palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD). with single columns from 0. Then. the RBDPO will pass through the RBDPO cooler and plate heat exchanger to transfer the heat to the CPO feed.column and pulls out by the vacuum system. coupled with a relentless pursuit of greater efficiency. Bleached. The bottom product of the pre-stripper and deodorizer is Refined. Though out the chemical industry the demand for pure products. a by-product from refinery process. The RBDPO then is pumped to the storage with temperature 50 – 80°C. The hot RBDPO (250 – 280°C) is pumped through Schmidt PHE to transfer its heat to incoming BPO with lower temperature. and distillation is the most widely used method of achieving this end: it is the key operation of the oil refinery. The distillation column is used in this purpose.3 to 10m in diameter and from 3m to upwards of 75m in height. The distillation column which have to be designed with a larger range in capacity than any other types of chemical engineering equipment. After that. has necessitated continued research into techniques of distillation. The purpose of designing is to achieve the desired product quality . Deodorized Palm Oil (RBDPO). The fatty acid vapor leaving the deodorizer are condensed and collected in the fatty acid condenser as fatty acid. it passes through another trap filters to have the final oil polishing (120 – 140°C) to prevent the earth traces from reaching the product tank.

distillation may be carried out by either of two principal methods. but also to provide constant purity of product even though there may be some variation in feed composition.Precut-Lighter Fatty Acid . with the minimum of ground utilization.Distillate Fatty Acids (DFA) . . The second method is based on the return of part of condensate to the still under such condition that this returning liquid is brought into intimate contact with the vapor on their way to the minimum cost. a large number of separate stages of vaporization and condensation. There is then no reflux. PFAD Plant Description a) Feed Raw Material b) i) Major Product Produced ii) By Product Produced Component . In practice.Residue PFAD Process Description The feed Palm Fatty Acid Distillate (PFAD) from storage tank with temperature around 50 – 100°C will first passes through a heat exchanger network. The first method is based on the production of a vapor by boiling the liquid mixture to be separated and condensing the vapors without allowing any liquid to return to the still.Palm Fatty Acid Distillate (PFAD) . Either of these methods may be conducted as a continuous process or as a batch process. The vertical cylindrical column provides in a compact form.

Column A: Precut 2. the heavy fatty acid from the bottom of Column C (C16 & C18) is pumped to Column B for further separation. Before that. the light fatty acid (precut with lower carbon number <C16) from the evaporation become vapor is continuously pulled out by the vacuum system. C16 & C18) come out from the bottom of Degasifier will go into column C for more separation between light and heavy components of fatty acids. There is high temperature inside the column B which is supplied by thermal oil reboiler (290 – 310°C) will contribute to the vaporization of fatty acids. After that. The fatty acids will evaporate under the vacuum condition and separation of light fatty acid and heavy fatty acid will occur. At the same time. Column C: Residue In column C. the heavy components of fatty acid (C10. the feed with temperature 220 – 255°C will further heating by thermal oil boiler until temperature become 240 – 300°C under vacuum system. The light fatty . Therefore the temperature will increase (220 – 250°C) during the distillation process because of the higher boiling point of the fatty acids feed. At the top of column C. there are three distillation column are used in distillation process. Then the hot feed will enters to the Degasifier for separating some impurities and light fatty acid presented in the feed under vacuum system. The precut then passed through the heat exchangers and cooled down by the soft water and PFAD feed before going to storage. The products of these 3 columns are as follow: 1. C12. C14. Column B: Distillate Fatty Acid (DFA) 3.The temperature of PFAD will increase to approximately 200 –220°C.

These are accomplished trough a simple process of fractionation which is based on two fundamental operations: 1) 2) Crystallization Filtration Fractionation of palm oil can be described as follow. the lower . Fractionation: Value added process? The demand for liquid oils has increased in recent years. the Malaysian refiners start to offer product which are “harder”(Stearin) and “more liquid”(olein) than palm oil. the heavy fatty acids component is pumped to the heat exchanger (Residue/PFAD feed and Residue/Hot Water) before going to storage tank. which is the temperature at which turbidity appears when the oil is cooled under standard conditions.acid (DFA) from the vaporization of fatty acid is pulled out by the vacuum system into a reflux holder. In order to cater for a wide range of markets. mainly for salad and cooking uses and an important property for such oils is low cloud point. The uncompleted distillate will recycles back to column B for further separation. the bottom product of column B is residue. The triglycerides found in the oil have different melting points. Liquids oils with a low cloud point are desirable because of the widespread use of household refrigeration. When the refluks is overflow. At certain temperature. The DFA then is further cooled down in spiral heat exchanger (hot water/DFA) and plate heat exchanger (Cooling tower water/DFA) before sending to storage at 60 – 90°C. the excess DFA is pumped to the heat exchangers and cooled down by the soft water and the PFAD feed. On the other hand.

Refined Bleached Deodorised . (2) super grade olein and (3) olein with cloud point 7 – 8°C.075 is fed into the heat exchanger.Refined Bleached Deodorised Palm Olein (Olein) ii) By Product Produced Stearin (Stearin) Fractionation Process Description The dry fractionation is used to separate the palm olein and palm stearin from the RBDPO produced by physical treatment. Crystallization Process Firstly. colour<2. the RBDPO feed must pass the quality specification. The RBDPO is passed through the further fractionation process to get various grade of palm olein and palm stearin. palm olein is the premium product and the palm stearin is the discount product. The RBDPO . It is worth mentioning that in palm oil fractionation. The fraction can then be separated by filtration. Usually. In Malaysia. there are three types of olein are produced: (1) normal grade olein. Fractionation Plant Description a) Feed Raw Material (RBDPO) .melting temperature triglycerides will crystallize into solid separating the oils into both liquid (Olein) and solid (Stearin) fraction.6R and FFA< 0. fractionation of palm oil into palm olein and palm stearin is accomplished using two types of processes which are “Viz Dry” and “Detergent Fractionation”.Refined Bleached deodorised Palm Oil b) i) Major Product Produced .

the crystal formation and growth occurs as the oil is agitated and cooled sing chilled water and cool water filled in the jackets or cooling coils of the crystallizer. Time with a gradual decrease in temperature and stillness. The idea is to destroy any crystals present and to induce crystallization in a controlled manner in the crystallizer. The lowering of temperature causes. In the crystallizer. An automatic station controls the temerature in the various crystallizers. These crystallizers are made up of vertical cylindrical vessel full of thermo-regulated water which submerged barrels containing the oil to be fractionated: each of these barrels is fitted with a mechanical agitator. 2. The crystallization system is a batch type and is equipped with special crystallizers operating alternatively. Filtration Process . 3. time and agitation). There are 3 factors (temperature. because of supersaturating the higher melting component to separate from a solution.feed is heated up by hot waters around 75°C. have a fundamental importance on the formation and character of the crystal: 1. Agitation facilitates the formation of small crystals. The crystallization process is carried out to remove the higher melting glycerides which cause liquid oils to become cloudy and more viscous at low temperature. Cooling can be governed by controlling either the oil or water temperature. promotes the formation of longer crystals. The solution is pumped batch-wise into the crystallizer according to a preestablished programme. After that. After that the oil is kept homogenized at about 70°C in homogenizes before the start of crystallization. the oil is pumped to the crystallizer.

Catalytic hydrogenation. The filter media are located between each individual element. Cake will build up in the hollow space between the elements and fall out of the press when the filter pack is opened. head plates. Liquid oils with unsaturated triglycerides are thus transformed into fats containing a higher % age of saturated triglycerides: Hydrogenation is often called hardening of oils and soft fats. or a series of chamber is compressed between one fixed and one movable cover or bulk-head.After the crystallization process. The membrane filter is pressure filter where the filter pack comprising alternatively plates and frames. filter plates. which has been known in fat technology since the beginning of this century. Presently. plate shifting device with the built in panel board. Hydrogenation Hydrogenation is the most widely used method of all the oil modification processes. Composition of the filter pack is by means of electrically driven hydraulic system (75 bar). is used increasingly for the preparation . It is a catalytic process whereby the number of double bonds are reduced and by the same time isomerization of the residual fatty acids is promoted. the slurry from buffer tank passses through the filtration process for the physical separation between RBD palm stearin and RBD palm olein. which controls the entire mechanical parts of units. Another alternative for this purpose is by employing drum filter for separation. to reduce the degree of unsaturated in the fatty acid groups of the glycerides. the membrane filter is used for this filtration.

the activity and nature of the catalyst.R + H2 Hydrogenation H H The complex system consists of three phases: liquid oil. catalyst concentration. etc have an influence. The overall hydrogenation rage depends on the quality of the reactant involved. Hence there are many different internal surfaces through which the hydrogen molecules have to pass until they reach the double bonds of the unsaturated triglycerides adsorbed on the catalyst surface. gaseous hydrogen and solid catalyst. In spite of these numerous reaction parameters that affecting the quality of the desired product. the triglyceride moves off the catalyst surface.C – C – R . In addition reaction parameters such as hydrogen pressure. stirring. fat-technologist have resolved the operating conditions required for the preparation of tailor-made fats. The raw materials are from refinery: Palm Fatty Acid Distillate (PFAD) and Refined R. This process is established mainly to add value to by byproducts from the refinery.C = C . the degree of refining of the oil to be hydrogenated. Depend on the condition of the reaction. the basic reaction can be shown as follows: H H H H R . reaction temperature. thus enabling the next unsaturated molecule to be adsorbed and processed.of ‘tailor-made’ fats. As soon as the unsaturated bonds are saturated.

the fatty acid feed from the storage tank (60 – 70°C) is pumped to the feed preheater. PFAD. likely to give higher “trans” acid contents. The reactor consisted of the nickel catalyst which play an important role in the reaction as follow: 1. Basically. before entering the reactor for hydrogenation process. 3. Hydrogenation Process Description There are various kind of oils used as the feed of this plant depends on the market demands. the hot feed is transferred to the reactor autoclave for reaction. the fatty acid feed is heated up by the hot hydrogenated FA from plant until 140 – 170°C. To avoid modifiers. Then. 2. 5. precut and split residue. such as sulphur. Lowering the iodine value to improve stability and good yield of liquid oil when winterized. 4. RBDSt. . Comparatively high temperature to accelerate reduction of polyunsaturated without formation of saturates. stearin is the main raw material for this plant. there are DFA.Bleached Deodorized (RBD). Reduced the hydrogen gas pressure. In the feed preheater. Firstly. To remove materials responsible for clouding and solidification at low temperatures.

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