The exact processing details depend on the kind of equipment to be used. Typical processing steps are as follows.
Transport the harvested bunches to the mill with minimum bruising for processing within 24 hours. This minimizes the fermentation of the oil, and makes it possible to produce a final product with low (¡3.5%) free fatty acids.
Sterilize/cook the bunches with steam under pressure. The sterilization destroys the enzymes that cause the oil to ferment.
3. Strip the fruit from the bunches. This will likely be done with a me- chanical bunch stripper.
Process the individual fruit-lets in a digester that releases the oil.
Press the oil out of the digested fruit in a mechanical screw press.
Remove water, dust, and fibers from the oil by filtering and boiling
and/or using a centrifuge.
In addition to obtaining appropriate equipment for the processing just described, a facility will be needed. It is estimated that a simple building of about 300-500 square meters would be sufficient to house the equipment, and to provide room for both an office and limited storage. Reliable sources of both water (not necessary potable) and electricity will also be required. Documentation and record-keeping would be best facilitated with a computer and printer.
One challenge that will need to be addressed is the handling of by- products. The primary by-products are listed below, with estimated quanti- ties based on an average annual throughput rate of 5000 kg (FFB)/hr, or a total of 10 million kg (FFB) processed per year.
3,500,000 kg of empty fruit bunches. Although these can be burned, they do not typically make a very good fuel, as they have a high water content. One idea is to chop them up for use as mulch for the palm trees.
2,250,000 kg of oil-pressed fibers. Local producers form these into small cakes to be used as cooking fuel. With a goal of extracting more oil from the fruit, the fuel value of the fibrous residue is uncertain.