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BRIEF PROCESS DESCRIPTION

1.1 Physical Refinery Plant

The main objectives of physical refining process are to remove Free


Fatty Acid (FFA), colour and odour of the CPO, which is the raw material
of the process. The plant has three main sections that are responsible
for the three consecutive steps of the physical refining process namely
degumming, bleaching and deodorization.

Degumming

(i) Degumming step is commonly known as pre-treatment step of the


physical refining process. It aims to remove gums and other
impurities that are contained in the CPO.
(ii) Prior to degumming, the incoming CPO is heated from 50oC to
90oC.
(iii) Then the heated CPO is mixed with phosphoric acid in a dynamic
mixer and further drawn into degumming reactor with retention
time of 20 minutes.
(iv) During the retention in the degumming reactor, sparging steam
will assist further heating of the oil.
(v) The degummed oil with temperature of 95oC will then be fed to
the bleacher for the bleaching step.

Bleaching

(i) Prior to bleaching step, the degummed oil is mixed with bleaching
earth in the oil/earth mixer. The bleaching earth is proportioned
by an automatic feeding system.
(ii) The degummed oil mixed with bleaching earth is then drawn into
bleacher where the bleaching process takes place for about 30 -
50 minutes at 100oC – 105oC.
(iii) The output from the bleacher known as Bleached Palm Oil (BPO)
is passed through the Niagara Filter in order to separate the spent
bleaching earth and other impurities from the oil. BPO from the
Niagara Filter is then pumped into filtered oil tank as a temporary
storage before further processing.
(iv) Usually, the BPO from the filtered oil tank will pass through a
second filter, called Polishing Filter before it is passed to the
deodorizer.
Deodorization

(i) Deodorization is the most crucial step in refining process. It is a


steam distillation process that occurs at high temperature and
high vacuum.
(ii) BPO from the polishing filter is heated up to 260oC under vacuum.
Steam and water are adjusted in order to maintain a vacuum of
approximately 5 torr.
(iii) Direct steam functions to readily remove the free fatty acids,
aldehydes and ketones residuals that cause the undesirable odors
and flavours.
(iv) The fatty acid vapour is pulled out from the column by the
vacuum system and trapped in the fatty acid condenser and then
further cooled in the fatty acid cooler and discharged to the fatty
acid storage tank as palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD).
(v) The bottom product of deodorizer is Refined Bleached Deodorized
Palm Oil (RBDPO) with temperature approximately 260oC. The
RBDPO is pumped through plate heat exchanger to exchange the
heat with feed CPO before it undergoes final cooling and pumped
to the storage tank with temperature 50 - 80oC.

1.2 Dry Fractionation Plant

Fractionation aims to separate the liquid part of RBDPO which is olein


(RBDPL) from the solid part of the RBDPO namely stearin (RBDPS). The
feed raw material for the fractionation plant is RBDPO that would
produce olein as major product and stearin as by product. There are
three stages included in the dry fractionation process.

Homogenization

The feed RBDPO is initially heated in a plate heat exchanger. This is to


melt all solid oil particles in the feed RBDPO in order to obtain a
homogenize oil.

Crystallization

(i) The heated RBDPO is then fed into the crystallizer.


(ii) The RBDPO is cooled by the cooling coil which in turn is circulated
by the cooling water. The temperature of the cooling water is set
to follow a defined cooling curve programmed in the temperature
controller. The temperature of the RBDPO in the crystallizer will
decrease according to the defined cooling curve of the cooling
water and this is how the RBDPO is cooled in order to allow the
crystal nuclei formation. The temperature of cooling water
circulated in the cooling coils is adjusted by a control valve that
regulates the amount of hot water, cool water or chilled water
that enter the water inlet to the crystallizer based on the
temperature indicated by the defined cooling curve.

Membrane filtration

(i) Solid oil crystals (stearin) is separated from the liquid oil (olein) in
a membrane filter press which is an automatic filter with side
plate shifting. There are 3 membrane filter press available in this
plant.
(ii) The olein is pumped to the olein storage tank.
(iii) On the other hand, the stearin separated by the membrane filter
press is melted in the stearin melting tank before it is stored or
packaged.
(iv) Any remaining olein in the stearin can be recovered by squeezing
the stearin cake.

1.3 Kernel Crushing Plant

Kernel Crushing Plant aims to extract oil from the palm kernel. The
products are known as crude palm kernel oil (CPKO) and palm kernel
expeller (PKE) as a byproduct. The method of extracting is by crushing
the palm kernel through series of expellers. The oil is filtered through
Niagara filter before being stored at the final oil tank.