Refining and Fractionation Process
Crude palm oil, after the extraction process, looks at room temperature (e.g. 25°C) like a pasty and strongly red-colored material. In order to obtain a more finished product, it is necessary to find a process to:
- Remove free fatty acids
- Remove odor
- Remove color
- Obtain a more free-flowing material at room temperature
- Obtain hard fats used as bakery fats
The removal of fatty acids, color and odor is achieved via physically refining the crude palm oil.
The physical refining process consists of three main sections:
1) Dry degumming:
In the dry degumming, the crude palm oil is mixed with food grade acid to remove the free fatty acids.
Degummed oil mixed with earth is processed in a vacuum bleacher where it is dried and de-aerated. The bleaching earth absorbs the main particles of color bodies as well as metal contamination and oxidizing materials in the oil
3) Distillation / Deodorization:
The bleached oil is first de-aerated and heated where any remaining air and volatile materials are removed.
The oil then enters the deodorizer section where the main body of free fatty acids and other volatile odor and taste substances are removed from the oil.
The oil leaving the deodorizer is cooled to storage temperature and then passed through one of two alternately working polishing filters.
The product obtained is refined bleached and deodorized oil (RBDO).
To obtain a free flowing material, a fractionation process, which allows the separation of the liquid phase from the solid phase, is used.
The Fractionation Process
The process of fractionation consists of the separation of the liquid part (olein) from the solid part (stearin), involving:
- Keeping the fat at a controlled temperature to allow crystallization
- Separation of the formed crystals
With dry fractionation process, the oil is kept at a controlled temperature in large tanks with slow stirrers. Crystals form and build into aggregates. The slurry is pumped through a membrane filter press for separation of the olein and stearin fractions.
The stearin cake obtained from the membrane filter press is melted in the stearin-melting tank below the press, which also acts as a stearin intermediate tank, prior to storage or packaging.
GA Expertise is the exclusive agent for LIPICO TECHNOLOGIES for the Latin American and African market.
LIPICO is one of the leading engineering companies in Asia since their incorporation in 1996.
Their services include design, supply and commissioning of a full range of processing plants for the oils & fats industries; from process design, consultancy, supply, commissioning and training for new plants; to post delivery services for replacement parts, process trouble shooting, plant expansion, etc.
With their headquarters based in Singapore, LIPICO is strategically located near the major oils & fats producing countries in Asia to keep in tune with the development of the industries.
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