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J. agric. Engng Res.

(1983) 28, 495-503


Expression of Oil from Oilseeds-A Review


Generally, the recommended pre-pressing operations for oil expression include grinding or
flaking and then cooking pre-cleaned oilseeds. The literature indicates that pressure, temperature,
pressing time and moisture content are the factors which affect oil yield during expression
processing of oilseeds.
Nearly all of the yield data reported correspond to hydraulic presses while the current tech-
nology, at least in the U.S.A., for expression processing is the screw press. Research is still
needed to determine if these factors affect the screw-pressing process in the same way and to the
same extent as they do in a static pressing operation.

1. Introduction
Expression is the process of mechanically pressing liquid out of liquid-containing solids.
Screw presses, roll presses and mills, collapsible-plate and frame-filter presses, disc mills, inter-
locking-finger juice extractors, juice reamers, rack and cloth presses and hydraulic presses are
examples of the wide variety of equipment available for expression processing. The efficiency of a
mechanical-expression process cannot be equal to unity and, in actual operations, it seldom
exceeds 90%. The advantages of expression over extraction processing is that it gives end-
products free of dissolved chemicals and is inherently a safer process.
Extraction is the process of separating a liquid from a liquid-solid system with the use of a
solvent. This process gives a higher recovery of oil and a drier cake than expression. Cake is the
de-oiled material and foots are the solid particles expelled with the oil. Extraction processing, or
solvent extraction, is capable of removing nearly all of the available oil from oilseed meal or
flakes. In addition to the higher yield obtained by a more complete removal of the oil, better
preservation qualities and a higher protein meal is produced.
Data on the range of oil contents occurring naturally in a variety of the more common oilseeds
and the approximate oil yield per hectare (generally international averages) are given in Table 1,
assuming all of the oil is expressed or extracted. ’ If processing yields are less than lOOO/”
then the
yields in Table 1 must be reduced accordingly.
Available oil in selected common seeds’
Oilseed Oil content, y0 Yield, kg/ha Oil yield, kg/ha
- -- _-
Castor bean 35-55 950 485
Coconut 40-45 1412 600
Cottonseed 24-26 560 140
Flax 5-40 650 230
Maize (corn) 6-10 5720 286
Mustard 25-60 1100 468
Peanut 43-45 1016 447
Rapeseed 33-43 1200 456
Sesame 50-57 330 220
Soybean 13-25 1790 319
Sunflower 4@-42 1266 519
- -
*Department of Agricultural Engineering. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.A.
Received IS October 1982; accepted in revised form 4 June 1983
0021~8634/83/060495 +09 $03.00/O 0 1983 The British Society for Research in Agricultural Engineering

2. Expression techniques
An ancient Chinese wedge press as shown in Fig. 1 was reported by Boatwright. Bags of
ground oilseeds were placed on a wooden plank which was firmly held by two angle-braced logs
as end supports. A trough was placed beneath the plank to permit the oil to flow the entire
length and to drain into a container. Wooden wedges were then pressed, one after another,
between the two end bags and the end supports to increase the pressure uniformly for the expulsion
of oil.

I I Beam I ,I
Trough CUP ,
, II I
,____; L____.d
Fig. I. Wedge press

Hurst3 described three kinds of press in use at the beginning of the 20th Century. The first was a
“stamper and wedge” press which was an updated version of the Chinese wedge press. It had an
estimated capacity of 550 kg/d. The second, a screw press, found little use because of design
limitations. It consisted of a cylinder into which seed was placed and a piston which was driven
up and down by a screw turned by a lever.
The third, a hydraulic press, virtually superseded all other forms of oil presses. The hydraulic
press, as presented by Hurst3 and illustrated in Fig. 2, consisted of a series of horizontal corrugated
iron plates which separated four to 14 premoulded cakes of oilseed. Pressing was accomplished
in two stages. Initially, the samples were pressed at approximately 5 MPa for 15-20 min. Then a
pressure of 28 MPa was applied for 5-10 min to complete the expression process. The output of
this press varied depending on the sizes and the seed being pressed. The maximum capacity of the
presses described was 175-200 kg/h of seed cake.

Hydraulic pumps

Fig. 2. Hydraulic oil press
L. M. KHAN; M. A. HANNA 497

More recently, hydraulic presses have be replaced by “screw” presses. This is not to be
confused with the screw press used in the 19th ‘Qe, tury. An oilseed screw press, as illustrated in
Fig. 3, has a horizontal main shaft carrying the screw assembly which is formed integrally with the
shaft. The screw rotates within a cage or barrel which is lined with case-hardened, tool-steel
bars. Spacers are used between the lining bars to permit drainage of the oil as the pressure on the
feed material is increased. At the discharge end, a movable cone or choke controls the operating
pressure by changing the width of the annular space through which the press cake must pass.
The choke is typically adjusted by a hand-wheel on the opposite end of the screw. The heat
generated as a result of friction can be dissipated by cooling the cage and shaft with water.

Feed hopper
Press cake outlet

oil receiver Cake bow Choke

- -
Fig. 3. Screw press

The screw is designed so that the volume displacement at the feed end of the press is considerably
greater than at the discharge end. As a result, when the material is conveyed from the feed end
to the discharge end, the pressure increases and oil is expelled through the slots between the cage
lining bars.
The compression ratio of a press is the volume displaced per revolution at the feed end of the
screw divided by the volume per revolution at the discharge end. A typical compression curve of a
screw press is shown in Fig. 4. The compression curve is typically split into feed, ram and plug
sections. The radial pressure along a screw-press barrel is shown in Fig. 5. The maximum radial
pressure is generated at the feed end of the ram section, The axial pressure follows the radial
pressure up to the beginning of the plug section and then the fall-off in axial pressure toward the
discharge end is less marked. A pressure gradient exists toward both ends of the press.
Ward4 indicated that the feed end of the press handling a high oil content seed must be designed
to dissipate the back pressure, move a sufficient volume of meal forward with minimum rotation
and provide drainage of the expelled oil and air. Tests using radioactive isotopes have confirmed
that the greatest part of the slip and rotation occurs at the feed end of the shaft. Purely axial flow
of material along the screw is highly recommended under ideal circumstances. To achieve
suitable operation of a press, it is essential to have a screw assembly and cage-lining-bar material
with a low-friction coefficient. A low-friction shaft should be used in conjunction with higher
friction bars for softer seeds.
Tindale and Hill-Haa? reviewed the screw presses currently available to processors, This
review included a discussion of the technical features of each machine. The use of expellers
(screw presses) and research associated with the expression process diminished with the develop-
ment of the solvent extraction process. Now, as in the past, a two-step, expression and then

< >
Feed section Ram section Plug section

i pomt Distance along barrel -A Discharge

FiK. 4. Compression curve (compression ratio = vl/v2)

Rodiol pressure

Feed point Distance along barrel -+ Discharge

Fig. 5. Pressures in screw press barrel

extraction process is being implemented for high-oil-content materials to improve overall yields
and to reduce solvent requirements.

3. Pre-pressing operations
BredesorP enumerated three steps for full expression of vegetable oils. The first was to roll
decorticated oilseed thoroughly and completely to rupture the greatest number of oil cells and to
provide a homogeneous flake. The second step was a leisurely complete cooking to ensure no
scorching or burning and to provide a minimum amount of agitation to rupture the remaining
unruptured oil cells and to coagulate the protein in the meal. The third step was to have an
efficient screw-press operation.
Ward4 indicated that it is important to understand that a screw-pressing operation is self-
defeating. The oil in the seed is contained in sacs or in fibrous capillaries. When pressure is
applied, the volume of the capillaries is reduced to expel the oil. However, at the same time, the
capillaries are narrowed, sheared, and eventually sealed by the increasing pressure. Ward4 further
reported that preparing and reducing the seed is to break down or weaken the oil-cell walls so
that the oil is available to be expelled. Cooking is essential because it completes the breaking
down of oil cells, lowers the viscosity of oil to be expelled, coagulates the protein in the meal, and
adjusts the moisture content of the meal to the optimum level for pressing. In addition, cooking
L. M. KHAN; M. A. HANNA 499

sterilizes the high-oil-content seeds and tires certain phosphatides in the cake to lower the sub-
sequent refining loss.
Steinbock’ reported that a combination of mechanical pressing and solvent extraction
occasionally gives better results than either process used separately. The seed is first pressed to
reduce the oil content to about 20% and the remaining cake is then solvent-extracted. Hexane is
an excellent solvent because of its narrow evaporation range, which is important in distilling the
solvent from the oil. He further explained that both oil yield and process costs depend on seed
preparation prior to pressing. With the exception ot very small-sized seeds like sesame, reduction
of the seed to flakes by rolling is essential. The size and hardness of the seed determines the
number of stages for the flaking operations, without which the oil yield is reduced. The size of the
flakes, the temperature of the seed prior to pressing and the moisture content must be carefully
controlled to achieve the best results.
Seed cleaning is important for the expression of vegetable oils, as the efficient removal of
foreign material will increase the pressing efficiency. Steinbock’ further indicated that, in the case
of pressing, care must be taken to establish correct conditions for any type of seed. Galloway’
described techniques and equipment for cleaning, dehulling, decorticating and flaking of oil-
bearing materials. He emphasized, as did Steinbock,’ the fact that the best preparation is some-
what different for each oil-bearing seed material. The suggested processing operations for
several oilseeds are shown in Table 2.
Process sequence for different kinds of seeds’

Clean Delint Dehull Crack Flake Cook Press

___- -__-
Cottonseed R” R R R R R R
Palm kernels R R R R R
Peanuts R R R R R R
Flax seed R R R R
Sesame R R R
soybeans R R R

‘R stands for recommended process sequence

Woolrich and Carpenter9 indicated that the preconditioning of cottonseeds is essential to get
the maximum oil yield during expression. The most important operation in the preparation for
cooking was rolling. Rolling gave an oil yield equivalent to grinding the oilseeds to pass through a
50-mesh sieve. The real function of rolling appeared to be that it exposed a greater area of oil-
bearing cells to the moisture and heat during cooking. If the seeds are properly processed, the
cell walls become more porous and give a better outlet for the oil.
Othmer and Agarwal’O reported that the inability to get oil from whole and half soybeans
clearly indicated that cell walls must be broken by a flaking operation to allow the oil to be
removed from otherwise impervious cells.
Woolrich and Carpenter9 also indicated that if moisture was added just before cooking and the
seed temperature was raised to 99°C with steam, the time required in the cooker could be reduced
to a fraction of the time required when the moisture was added while the cottonseeds were still in
Taylor” found that cooking cottonseed at pressures above atmospheric, with temperatures over
130°C and with meal moisture contents between 7% and 8%, reduced the cooking time, increased
the oil yield and improved the quality and uniformity of the finished products. Williams and
Rathod’* reported that a moisture content of 7-8% gave the best oil yields from soybeans. Their
work was done on a modified screw press developed for the production of soy-flour in India.
In a triple-pass expelling process, they were able to remove over 80% of the oil from soybeans.

Gumham and Masson13 studied the effect of sample size on the pressure applied on fibrous
materials. They concluded that the effect of sample size was negligible at pressures greater than
4-7 MPa in a 28.6 mm dia. cylinder. At lower pressures, small samples were denser than large
samples. The effect of liquid on the pressure-volume relations depended on whether the fibre was
affected chemically or physically by the liquid. Their work, however, only involved the measure-
ment of equilibrium pressures and volume changes and did not take into account the dynamic
stresses which are considered to be important in expression procedures.
Kormendy14 reported that for expression of apple juice the pressing time required for the
percent yield of fluid was proportional to the square of the initial thickness of the material.

4. Pressing operations
Oil quality and yield, as affected by the conditions of expression, were studied by Smith and
Kraybill.15 Fine-ground soybean meal which passed through a 2 mm sieve was used. The samples
were dried in a vacuum oven at 48-50°C. A desiccator produced 0,4, 6 and Sy:, moisture content
on a wet basis. The samples were then pressed in the laboratory hydraulic press with hot plates
above and below the cylindrical press to control the temperature. Test temperatures ranged from
approximately 25°C to 100°C. The time required for pressing was 2 h. The pressure was increased
by approximately 35 MPa every 30 min until 138 MPa was reached. The yield was found in-
directly by determining the oil content of the cake after pressing according to the method of the
American Oil Chemists Society. l6 According to their results, better yields were obtained at
higher temperatures and lower moisture contents.
Beisler” found that in the cold-press processing of tung nuts, the oil yield was reduced when
the moisture content exceeded 6%. Jamieson la stated that S-9o/o moisture on a wet basis in the
meal gave good results.
Koo19 reported that pressing temperature, pressure, time and moisture content affected the
yield of vegetable oils. To study the effect of these factors on oil yield, he used a laboratory
hydraulic press similar to the Carver model (Fisher Scientific Co., Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)
for the expression of cottonseed oil. The press had a pressing face of 3870 mm2 between which a
maximum pressure of 34.5 MPa could be generated by an oil pump which was fixed at the bottom
of the hydraulic press. On the bottom, the pressing face was attached to a hollow cylinder,
88.9 mm i.d. and 190.5 mm high, with fine holes to let the oil flow out during the pressing.
Fitted inside the cylinder was a plunger. Electric hot plates were used to provide heat.
In all of his studies on the expression of vegetable oils, Koo’~-** varied one of the four factors
at a time, holding the other three factors constant. Tables 3,4, 5 and 6 are included to show the
format and the results of his experiments on cottonseed oil. It was found, as shown in Table 3,
that the oil yield was directly proportional to the square root of the pressure. Table 4 shows that
the oil yield was inversely proportional to the square root of the kinematic viscosity, which was a
function of temperature only. The effect of pressing time on oil yield appeared to be of little
importance, since the square of the oil yield was proportional to the cube root of pressing time
(Table 5).
Effect of pressure oncottonseedoil yield (temperature = WC,
time = 4 h)”

Pressure (P), Oil yield ( W), Wp-‘I2

MPa wt %
13.8 10.0 2.69
17.2 11.3 2.72
20.7 12.2 2.68
241 13.1 2.67
27% 14.0 2.66
L. M. KHAN: M. A. HANNA 501

Effect of temperature on cottonseed oil yield (pressure = 24.1 MPa,
time = 3 h)lp

Temp., “C Oil yield(W), wt % viscosity (v), w VW

10e5 m”js

18 13.0 8.40 0.12

25 13.6 5.98 0.11
50 16.1 2.55 0.08
75 21.3 1.28 0.08
loo 23.8 0.70 0.06
125 24.2 0.50 0.05


Effect of time of pressing on cottonseed oil yield (pressure

= 24.1 MPa, temperature = 18”C)‘9

Passing time (t), h Oil yield(W), wt % Jp t-w

0.5 9.14 106

1.0 10.8 117
1.5 10.8 103
2.0 11.8 110
3.0 13.0 116
4.0 13.1 108

Effect of moisture content on cottonseed oil yield (pressure = 24.1 MPa, time = 3 h)”

At 18°C At 103°C
___- I
Moisture, Oil yield, Moisture, Oil yield,
% (w.b.) wt % % (w.b.) wt %

2.94 0 3.10 14.9

3.62 0 5.35 23.8
5.67 12.8 8.20 21.6
6.97 12.7 11.0 21.0
8.20 13.0 13.2 32.1*
11.2 12.7 14.20 19.5*
20.6 20.7*
22.0 19.4*

‘The oil expressed was cloudy due to water contamination

The results of the effect of moisture content (Table 6) on oil yield showed that at a temperature
of 18°C and below 4% moisture in the cottonseed, oil cannot be pressed out; while from 5.67 o/0to
11.2% moisture content, about 12.5% of oil yield was expressed. When the temperature was
raised to lOO”C, oil was pressed out even at a moisture content of 3.1 O/$. Again, in the moisture
range of 5.35-l l*O”/& oil yields were approximately the same. At higher moisture contents, the
oil was contaminated with meal containing water such that the output appeared cloudy and

became difficult to separate. Koo concluded that with cottonseed, the optimum range of moisture
content was from 5% to 11y0 for the temperature range of 18-100°C.
To estimate the expression of oil from cottonseed, soybean, rapeseed, peanut, sesame, tung nut
and caster bean, KOOKY developed the following general equation :
w z cw, pV t1/6v- z/2
where W is the oil yield (in wt %), C is a constant for the kind of oil seed (units consistent with
unit analysis), W, is the oil content of the seed (in wt %), P the pressure (in MPa), t the pressing
time (in h), v the kinematic viscosity of the oil at press temperature (in m2/s) and z is an exponent
of kinematic viscosity varying from l/6 to l/2. A summary of the C, W,, and z values is given in
Table 7. The experimental data revealed that for any one oilseed, there was an optimum range of
moisture content for maximum oil yield. Of the various seeds studied, this range was from 5% to
13% (dry basis).

Constants and exponents for general oilseed expression equation=

Oilseed z cx 103 W0
Soybean l/2 5.40 19.5
Cottonseed l/2 6.42 34.7
Rapeseed l/3 15.0 42.2
Peanut l/3 19.4 51.9
Tung nut l/3 23.4 64.5
Sesame seed l/6 46.5 53.0
Castor bean l/6 51.3 64.2

The relative efficiency of a pressing operation was dependent on the kind of oilseed being
pressed. Koo2’ reported press efficiencies, for a hydraulic press using the same operating condi-
tions, from a minimum of 62.1 y0 for soybeans to a maximum of 91.2% for tung nut.


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