THE PROCESS OF PROCESSING PALM FRUIT INTO PALM OIL
The production of crude palm oil includes a series of phases beginning with harvesting the fruit and ending with storing the oil, each using different methods and machines. Oil palm fruit can be processed in batch, continuous, or semi-continuous system. A batch system extracts oil from consecutive batches of fruits, while in a continuous system, each step in the oil extraction process feeds into the next. In a semi-continuous system, there may be pauses if some steps take longer than others do.
Oil Production Steps
The crude palm oil production process requires a large set of equipment, which can range from crude, manual mechanisms to advanced, automated machinery. Regardless of the types of machines used to produce crude palm oil, there are still a set of basic steps needed to produce palm oil. The following processing steps are common to all facilities and the products of each step are summarized in Figure 8. The first step in palm oil production is harvesting the palm fruit bunches. A harvester cuts the fresh fruit bunches from trees and allows them to fall to the ground. The fruit may be allowed to ferment, or fully ripen, in order to loosen the base of the fruitlets from the bunches and to make their removal easier. The fruitlets are removed from the bunch during the threshing process. Threshing can either be done by hand or with a mechanical thresher, which rotates or vibrates to separate the fruit from the bunch.
Sterilization process: The sterilization process uses heat to partially cook the fruit. This process also stops enzymatic reactions that lead to oxidation and disrupts the cells in the mesocarp, allowing for easier oil extraction (Kwaski, 2002). Wet processes use water to sterilize the fruit by either steaming or boiling the fruit, producing wastewater as a byproduct, while dry processes sterilize the fruit by smoking or roasting it. When implementing a wet process, the fruit is...