Crude palm kernel oil is derived from palm kernel, known as palm seed. It is liquid at room temperature and light yellow in color. The two oils i.e. palm oil and palm kernel oil derived from oil palm fruit are entirely different in fatty acid composition.
The fatty acid composition, physical and chemical properties of palm kernel oil is very similar to those of coconut oil. Palm kernel oil mainly contains lauric acid, palmitic acid and oleic acid It has iodine value of 18.5 approximately. Due to high content of lauric acid and low level of unsaturation, gives the palm kernel oil its high melting point.
It is used to manufacture RBD palm kernel oil, which is used in food industries and oleochemical industries. RBD palm kernel olein is derived by fractionation of RBD palm kernel oil. It is also used to manufacture soap noodles blended with palm oil. Lauric acid, palmitic acid and other fatty acid are manufactured from this oil.
The fresh fruit bunch is firstly sterilized to prevent acidification of the oil. The sterilized fruit bunches are then fed to the thresher where the fruits will be separated from the bunches. The loose fruits are conveyed to a digester and then to a screw press to press out the palm oil. The remains which is the cake contains palm nuts and is transferred to the palm kernel crushing plant. The cake is then passed through a column where air separates fibers and nuts as fiber is carried upwards due to the upward flow of air whereas the nut falls down due to gravity.
The nuts are then left cooled to prevent the fiber from sticking of kernel to the shell. The nuts are then fed to the nut cracking machine which has a centrifugal motion. In this machine, the nuts are fed to nut cracking machine which uses centrifugal motion to crack the nut into the kernel and shells. Small pieces of shell and dirt are separated in the winnowing system. The kernel is then fed to the hydrocyclone where the high circular motion of fluid, the kernel goes to the center of the cylinder whereas the shell will be removed via the overflow tube. The kernel is then dried as moisture will lead to the formation of fatty acid. The dried kernel is then crushed in a rotating screw which presses out the crude palm kernel oil which is stored in a tank for further processing.
Palm kernel oil is used to derive different kind of fatty acids. Lauric acid, myristic acid and oleic acid are derived from palm kernel oil as these oils are present in large proportions compared to other fatty acids. Crude palm kernel oil is also used to manufacture other fatty acids.
Palm kernel oil is used in the production of food such as margarine, shortening, cocoa butter substitute, etc. It is also used to produce ice creams due to the high melting point. It is also used to produce chocolate, mayonnaises, confectionaries, etc.
Palm kernel oil is used to manufacture different kinds of soap noodles such as toilet grade and multipurpose grade. This is done by mixing different palm oil in varying portion. The quality of soap noodles depends on the blending ratio of the oils used. It is also used in cosmetics.