Looking to zero discharge from palm oil mills
Mahbob Abdullah | 30 Mar 2018 00:30

Datuk Lim Chai Beng, managing director of CB Industrial Product Holding Bhd, has set his mind to keep fruit processing simple. It has gone far from the way it is done in the African villages, where I have seen men boil the fruit and skim the oil off the top, but there was a lot of wastage. It is still done that way there today.

In the mills, the improved method of extraction by plantation companies since the 1950s has been more complex, and the oil recovery has nearly doubled. It involves the arrival of the fruits on the ramp and letting them fall into cages, of 2.5 tonnes each. They are then pulled by steel cables and capstan into the horizontal sterilisers to be cooked.

I have often seen it done, and much of the recovery would depend on the art and skill of the operator of the steriliser lever. He controlled the cooking by the way he judged the ripeness of the bunches. He would see to it that the fruits got their full one hour in that long tube, and he could handle the lever to vary how much steam to go in, using his judgment on the ripeness of the bunches. Or he could stick to the standard pressure needed at three bar, and temperature of 135°C, let the steam out, and then blow in again for a three-peak cycle.