Palm oil refining industries are the most important manufacturing sectors in the world and Palm oil has become an increasingly important vegetable oil in the world market and today is the largest traded vegetable oil in the world. Indonesia & Malaysia are the largest producers with exporting companies of Crude Palm oil.

Crude Palm oil is obtained from the Mesocarp part of palm oil. Extracted Crude Palm oil contains some undesirable impurities and these impurities need to be removed partially or completely through the palm oil refining process in order to produce good edible oil with better stability and keepability.

Currently, Palm oil is a popular cooking oil in some tropical countries like South East Asia, Africa, and some parts of Brazil. Its popularity is due to its higher heat resistance as compared to any other vegetable oil and also because of its lower cost and good oxidative stability.

The unique and best quality of Palm is that it produces two types of oil: – Palm Oil and Palm Kernel oil.

Palm oil is extracted from the flesh of the Palm fruit and Palm Kernel Oil is extracted from the seeds or kernel of the Palm fruit through the palm kernel oil process.

The Palm Oil is extracted from the fresh Palm fruit flesh by pressing & centrifugation, in a palm oil plant. The Palm Oil extraction is to be done with fresh Palm fruit to avoid the deterioration of Palm Oil. Hence, the countries cultivating Palm Oil are extracting themselves to avoid its deterioration. The crude Palm Oil comes out as yellow-red or dark yellow in color and the taste of the crude Palm Oil is sweet.

The Crude Palm Oil Extracted contains unwanted impurities which effect adversely on the physical appearance, quality, oxidative stability, and shelf life of the oil. In order to remove the above impurities, the oil goes to a palm oil refinery plant in order to receive the RBD Palm Oil (Refined Bleached & Deodorized). After refining the Palm Oil, the RBD oil goes to the fractionation section in order to get the Palm Olein and Stearin.

Palm Oil fractionation process flow

Refining is the process in which we remove the undesirable impurities from Crude Palm oil as mentioned below.

  • Phospholipids
  • Coloring pigments (Carotenoids)
  • Free fatty acid
  • Moisture, oxidative material, metal impurities, and water soluble impurities (glycerol, Phenols, Sugars).

The term refining includes the removal of above impurities in order of increasing shelf life and quality of Refined Vegetable oil.

Palm Oil Refining Plant

Refining of palm oil consists of the following sections

Generally, in a palm oil refining plant, the refining process is a necessary step for the production of edible oils and fats products. The qualities of the finished product that need to be monitored are flavor, shelf-life, stability, and color of the products.

Refining of crude vegetable oil is done by two methods: Physical refining and chemical refining. During the refining of crude palm oil, FFA is removed in order to achieve the FFA content of up to 0.1 % max.

Physical refining generally has a lower environmental effect than chemical refining.

The bleaching of edible oils and fats is an important part of the refining process of crude oils and fats. It does remove several contaminations which impacts adversely the physical appearance and quality of the oil. Generally, the oil before taken to the bleaching section, and the treatment of the gums is done by phosphoric acid treatment so that these gums can be separated in the pressure leaf filter after bleaching.

During this stage, trace metal complexes such as iron and copper, coloring pigments, phosphatides, and oxidative products are removed by the adsorptive effect of bleaching earth.

This bleached oil is then filtered in industrial filters such as filter press or hermetically sealed vertical leaf pressure filter, plate, and frame type filter.

Mectech’s unique design of the bleacher keeps bleaching earth in full suspension due to which there are no dead areas inside the bleacher which in turn gives lower utility consumption. Since the bleaching crude palm oil process is carried out under controlled parameters, good quality oil is guaranteed in Mectech Bleacher.

As we know the refining of edible oil is basically divided into two parts: – Physical refining and Chemical refining. In both processes, deodorization steps are required but the working principle of deodorizer for both processes is a little bit different. In the physical refining, the FFA is removed in the Deo Section. Since palm oil is a hard oil, it requires physical refining due to the high FFA content in the crude palm oil.

Deodorization / De-acidification is done to remove the volatile components, mainly aldehydes and ketones, which cause for smell in refined oil. In the Deodorization process, free fatty acid is removed in the form of Palm fatty acid distillate as a refining waste.

Apart from the removal of free fatty acid, there are some impurities like carotenoid pigments, and primary and secondary oxidation products present in palm oil are also removed from refined Palm oil in this step. Deodorization is essentially a steam distillation process carried out at low pressures and elevated temperatures (180-220°C).

In the Physical palm oil refining process, the role of deodorizer is to strip free fatty acid, odor removal, and heat bleaching to cut the remaining color in bleached oil.

In chemical refining of palm oil, the role of deodorizer is odor removal, heat bleaching to remove the remaining color, and recovery of fatty acid distillate. The steam is injected in each compartment of our deodorizer so that an intimate mixing of oil and steam takes place. This arrangement of steam pipes makes the deodorization process more efficient.

After the Deodorization section, the oil is first cooled by cold Fractionated oil for maximum regeneration of heat Palm Oil Fractionation machine. Then the same oil is cold by cooling tower water up to 40˚C to 45˚C. Then this oil is cooled by outgoing chilled fractionated oil from the filters. This oil is then chilled to fractionation temperature in the Crystallizers.

In the crystallizer proper residence time is given with maintaining the temperature of the oil, which results in the formation of wax/stearin crystals, and residence time, will give proper growth to the crystals. The step cooling is followed in the crystallizer for the complete maturation of the crystal which increases the efficiency of the Palm Oil Fractionation Plant. The oil is cooled with the tempered water and then it is further cooled to the final fractionation temperature by the Chiller water. The water is chilled in the chiller. There are mainly two kinds of chillers available in the market, one is the power chiller and another one is the vapor absorption machine. The VAM is widely used in order to avoid the use of refrigerant gases.

After obtaining the desired temperature inside the crystallizer the mixture is then fed to the Filter Press for the separation of Stearin from Palm Olein. The recovery of the Palm Olein does also depend upon the kind of filters used.

The complete operation is controlled by an Automatic Electronic Panel (PLC /SCADA). Mectech is one of the leading Palm Oil Processing Plant manufacturers/Palm Oil Fractionation Machine suppliers in India and abroad.


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