Crude palm oil is produced from the pulp of the palm fruit. It is semi-solid at room temperature and melts to a clear red-orange liquid on slight heating. It has a rich source of carotenes and vitamin E. Like other crude oils, CPO contains impurities such as gums, pigments, trace metals and a host of other fat soluble compounds. Crude palm oil can be refined and further fractionated to widen its application.
Fresh fruits would first be sterilized. This would be done by using pressure steam. The fresh fruit would then be threshed to remove the branch from the fruit. Following that, the fruit would then undergo the process of digestion where the palm oil in the fruit would be released through the rupture or breaking down of oil-bearing cells. The digestor would consist of steam-heated vessel fitted with rotating shaft to pound the fruit. To extract the oil from the digested material, the digested material will be subjected to pressure to squeeze out the oil from the mixture. This can also be done using a different method which is to use hot water to leach out the oil. Finally, the oil would undergo clarification to separate the oil from its entrained impurities. This can be done in a continuous tank and crude palm oil will be obtained.
Crude palm oil is used in cooking oil, margarine, shortening, cream, lotion, and milk. Also, non-dairy creamer and ice cream can also be made by crude palm oil.
Crude palm oil is used as the fuel in modified automobile engines. This is more environmentally friendly as the exhaust will contain less sulfur and nitrous product. Furthermore, transportation of crude palm oil is safer and cheaper. Palm oil has been widely tested on taxi, big cars, trucks, tractors and stationary engines with diesel alternatives.
Crude palm oil is used as an ingredient in production of plasticizers, paints and surface coatings. Besides, bio-diesel and soap is produced by crude palm oil by mixing with petrodiesel, or processed through transesterification.