Sterilization

To ensure the quality and the productivity of palm oil mill, the fresh fruit bunches (FFB) must be processed within 24 hours of harvesting. Thus, most of the palm oil mills are located in close

Figure 1 (A) Cross-section cutting of oil palm fruit showing shell, mesocarp, and kernel sections; (B) manual harvesting of fresh fruit bunches using sickle. (Courtesy of Malaysian Palm Oil Board.)

proximity to the oil palm plantation. During sterilization, the FFB is subjected to three cycles of pressures (30, 35, and 40 psi) for a total holding time of 90 minutes. There are four objectives of the FFB sterilization: (a) to remove external impurities, (b) to soften and loosen the fruitlets from the bunches, (c) to detach the kernels from the shells, and, most importantly, (d) to deactivate the enzymes responsible for the buildup of free fatty acids. The sterilization process acts as the first contributor to the accumulation of POME in the form of sterilizer condensate.

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