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MPOB Modified Fractionation Process for Increased Olein Yield during Dry

Fractionation of Palm Oil

Chong Chiew Let* and Yeoh Chee Beng*

Malaysian Palm Oil Board
Dry fractionation of palm oil has been carried out by palm oil refinery over the last fifty
years. As palm oil is a semi-solid oil at ambient temperatures, it can be easily
fractionated to produce a liquid oil and a solid fat for liquid oil and solid fat applications
respectively. However, palm oil crystallization is a complex process which till date has
not been fully understood. Improvements in dry fraction over the years have been mainly
on the equipment side. Tremendous progress have been made in terms of crystallizer
designer and liquid and solid oil separation, the latest being the use of a 30ton pressure
membrane filter press. Work in the Malaysian Palm Oil Board on palm oil crystallization
has enabled MPOB to develop two modified fractionation programs for RBD Palm Oil
and CPO dry fractionation. These modified process programs, when applied to the dry
fractionation process, will lead to increases in olein yields through a reduction in olein
entrainment. The process will result in a more uniform crystal size distribution in the
slurry which is skewed to the higher end of the particle size scale. This will help to ease
filtration of the slurry. Results of a plant trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the program
for RBD palm oil fractionation showed an increase in olein yield of 4-5% for the process
conditions used in the trial refinery for the production of a low cloud point olein. In line
with theoretical expectations, a forced Ostwald ripening of the crystals was observed
to occur at plant scale, resulting in a more homogeneous but slightly larger observed
average crystal size. The increase in olein yield is due to less olein entrained in the
stearin crystals as evidenced by the unchanged physical characteristics of the oleins,
despite the increase in yield.

Keywords: dry fractionation, palm oil, increased olein yield, olein entrainment

*Analytical and Quality Development Unit (AQD),
Product Development and Advisory Services Division,
Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB),
P.O.Box 10620,
50670 Kuala Lumpur.