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STUDIES ON FLOW PERFORMANCE OF CRUDE PALM OIL IN

TRANSPORTATION HANDLING USING DIFFERENT TYPE OF


MECHANISMS
Nurul Haizan Binti Ahmad.
Faculty of Chemical and Natural Resources Engineering,
Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Lebuhraya Tun Razak,
26300 Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia.
Email: nurulhaizan88@gmail.com
Contact number: 014-8437034
____________________________________________________________________

Abstract
Crude palm oil (CPO) has high tendency to solidify. This drawback has make the CPO become solidify in the
pipelines and will cause loss of millions of ringgit per year. The objectives of this research were to identify suitable
temperature condition for best flow performance of CPO (least frictional force exists) and to identify physical parameter to
create resonance frequency using ultrasonic equipment. There are two methods that were employed for the improvement of the
CPO in transportation handling which are by using jacketed steam and ultrasonic equipment. This work reports viscosity data,
determined with viscometer for CPO over the temperature range of 30ºC - 60ºC and also the viscosity data that was determined
for CPO over the ultrasonic frequency of 3MHz, 6MHz and 9MHz. From the result obtained, the viscosity of the CPO
decreases nonlinearly with increasing temperature as has been found in other ordinary liquids. Then, all solid CPO were
observed to be totally dissolved at temperature 50ºC. By using ultrasonic equipment, the result shows that viscosity decreases
approximately linearly with increasing ultrasonic frequency at constant temperature. All the methods used shows satisfactory
results, where the flow of the CPO in transportation handling will increase. The research findings shall ease problems to CPO
transporter or pipeline users and it would contribute significantly in cost reduction of CPO storage and handling.

Keywords: Crude palm oil; Temperature; Frequency; Viscosity

Abstrak
Minyak kelapa sawit mentah mempunyai kecenderungan yang tinggi untuk membeku. Kelemahan ini telah
membuatkan minyak kelapa sawit mentah membeku di dalam paip dan akan menyebabkan kerugian berjuta-juta ringgit setiap
tahun. Objektif kajian ini adalah untuk mengetahui suhu yang sesuai untuk aliran minyak kelapa sawit mentah (mengurangkan
daya geseran) dan untuk mengenalpasti parameter fizikal untuk membuat frekuensi resonansi menggunakan peralatan
ultrasonik. Terdapat dua kaedah yang digunakan untuk memperbaiki aliran minyak kelapa sawit mentah semasa proses
penghantaran iaitu dengan menggunakan jaket berwap dan peralatan ultrasonik. Laporan ini merekodkan data kelikatan
minyak kelapa sawit mentah yang ditentukan dengan menggunakan viskometer untuk suhu antara 30ºC - 60ºC dan juga data
kelikatan untuk minyak kelapa sawit mentah pada frekuensi 3MHz, 6MHz dan 9MHz. Daripada hasil yang diperolehi,
kelikatan minyak kelapa sawit mentah menurun secara tidak seragam dengan peningkatan suhu seperti yang biasa terjadi pada
cecair biasa yang lain. Kemudian, minyak kelapa sawit yang membeku tersebut didapati mencair secara keseluruhan pada suhu
50ºC. Dengan menggunakan alat ultrasonik, hasilnya menunjukkan bahawa kelikatan minyak kelapa sawit mentah menurun
secara seragam dengan meningkatnya frekuensi alat ultrasonik pada suhu yang sama. Semua kaedah yang digunakan
menunjukkan hasil yang memuaskan, di mana aliran minyak kelapa sawit mentah semasa proses penghantaran semakin
meningkat. Hasil kajian ini adalah untuk mengurangkan masalah aliran minyak kelapa sawit mentah semasa proses
penghantaran atau di dalam paip dan ini akan mengurangkan kos simpanan dan pengendalian minyak kelapa sawit mentah.

Kata Kunci: Minyak kelapa sawit mentah; Suhu; Frekuensi; Kelikatan


____________________________________________________________________

1. Introduction

Malaysia is a world’s larger producer of palm oil and currently accounts for 47.9% or 11.9
million tonnes of the world palm oil production. Of the 11.9 million tonnes of palm oil produced in
2002, some 91.4% of it was exported (MPOB, 2003). In 2004, Malaysia produces 14 million metric
tonnes of palm oil annually (world output 30.6 million metric tonnes) from about 4.0 million hectares
of oil palm. In 2008, Malaysia produced 17.7 million metric tonnes of palm oil on 4.5 million
hectares of land. In 2010, production is expected to increase to 18.7 million tonnes, an increase of
20.9% during the five-year period, and to 20.15 million tonnes in 2015 and to 21.8 million tonnes in
2020 (Ramli & Mohd Alias, 2006).
Palm oil is derived from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm Elaesisguineesis. Palm oil is one
of the few vegetable oil high saturated fats. It is thus semi-solid at typical temperate climate room
temperatures, though it will more often appear as liquid in warmer countries. The solidification
temperature is of considerable significance in the transport of fatty oils and fats. They must remain
liquid during loading, during the voyage and during unloading. According to Ooi et al. (2005),
cloudiness, precipitation, poor flowability, poor pumpability and solidification are some of the
common problems suffered by vegetable oils at low temperatures. Crude palm oil (CPO) has high
solidification point, which is about 32ºC. Below that 32ºC, CPO will start to solidify. CPO also has
high value of viscosity.
Viscosity is one of the most important physical properties of a fluid system. Viscosity is the
quantity that describes a fluid’s resistance to flow. The less viscous the fluid is, the greater its ease of
movement (fluidity). Studies on the effect of temperature and ultrasonic frequency on the viscosity of
CPO have been performed. Then, the suitable temperature for best flow performance of CPO (least
frictional force exists) has been identified.

2. Methodology

2.1 Sample Used in the Experiments

Sample used in this experiment is crude palm oil (CPO). The CPO was supplied by Kilang
Sawit LCSB, Lepar.

2.2 Identify the Problem Location

The problem location was identified. Problem occurred during CPO transportation handling
which are when the CPO pumping through pipelines, CPO in tanks or in the lorry tankers.

2.3 Temperature Control Set-up

A 100ml of CPO sample was placed into a beaker. Then, the sample was heated in a water
bath at different temperature. A temperature controller was used to increase the temperature of the oil
sample from 30ºC to 60ºC with an increment of 5ºC. For each 5ºC increment, the CPO sample was
left for 15 min until steady state heat transfer was achieved. After the 15 min, sample’s viscosity was
tested using viscometer.

2.4 Ultrasonic Set-up

A Crest Ultrasonic was used for the second mechanisms for this experiment. A 100ml of
CPO sample in the beaker was placed in the Crest Ultrasonic. The Crest Ultrasonic was set-up with
temperature 30ºC and time for 30 min. Then, the Crest Ultrasonic frequency was set-up from 3MHz
to 9MHz with an increment of 3MHz. After 30 minutes, the sample’s viscosity was tested by using
viscometer.

2.5 Viscosity Measurements

Viscosity of the CPO was measured using a Brookfield Viscometer. The viscosity of the
CPO was measured in triplicate at 100 rpm (revolutions per minute). The highest speed was selected
in order to increase the accuracy of the measurement because a lower speed would have increased the
fluctuation of the viscosity readings.

3. Results and Discussions

At room temperature CPO has high viscosity and it is in a form of mixture of solid and
liquid. The crystallization of CPO results in formation of a cloud, sometimes are observed as white
sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Heating is an effective method to reduce the viscosity of the
vegetable oils. Other method that had been used is using ultrasonic equipment by manipulating the
ultrasonic frequencies. The effect of heating and ultrasonic frequencies on viscosity of the CPO was
tested by using Brookfield Viscometer.
3.1 Effect of heating on viscosity of the CPO

Table 3.1 shows the experimental data for viscosity at 30ºC - 60ºC for CPO sample. Crude
palm oil (CPO) solidifies at about 30ºC - 34ºC and its physical properties depend on the tempering
conditions (Sidek et al., 1996). At temperatures below 45°C, part of the CPO exists as solid fat
particles that disperse in the liquid oil phase. An increase in temperature from 20–45°C not only
decreases the viscosity of the clear liquid phase but also helps to dissolve the fat particles, thus
further lowering the viscosity of the oil suspension by decreasing the amount of suspended fat
particles, which increase the viscosity of a mixture (Tangsathitkulchai et al., 2004).

Table 3.1: Viscosity at 30ºC - 60ºC for CPO sample.

Temperature, T (ºC) Viscosity, μ (cP)


30 35.6
35 24.4
40 18.7
45 11.2
50 9.75
55 9.37
60 7.12

The experimental measurement of viscosity versus temperature for CPO sample is depicted
in Figure 3.1. As expected, the viscosity of the CPO decreases nonlinearly with increasing
temperature as has been found in other ordinary liquids. At high temperature the CPO loose it’s
viscosity. This could be due to the energy obtained to overcome the resistance to flow, which may be
due to the attractive forces among the oil molecules (Sunny Goh Eng Giap, 2010). From Figure 3.1,
one can see that the reduction of the viscosity is greater at the initial stage of the temperature
increment, and subsequent increases in the temperature during the latter part had less influence on
reducing the viscosity.

40
35
30
Viscosity, μ (cP)

25
20
15
10
5
0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70

Temperature, T (ᵒC)

Figure 3.1: The influence of temperature on the viscosity of CPO.

All solid CPO were observed to be totally dissolved at temperature 50ºC. At temperature
50ºC, CPO is able to pump through the pipelines.Then, the finding was that CPO must be heated to at
least 50ºC for smooth flow. Under the temperature 50ºC, the CPO will become in a form of mixture
of solid and liquid and will start to solidify. The high oil viscosity could be contributed to the stronger
attraction force between oil molecules. Hence, CPO at high temperature is the liquid with the weakest
in terms of its resistance to flow in relative comparison to the CPO at low temperature.

3.2 Effect of ultrasonic frequencies on viscosity of the CPO

Table 3.2 shows the experimental data for viscosity at 3MHz, 6MHz and 9MHz for CPO
sample. The ultrasonic attenuation has been used to provide information about the dynamic
rheological properties of oil. By measuring longitudinal ultrasonic wave attenuation over a wide
range of temperature or frequencies it is possible to determine the dynamic bulk viscosity of the oils
(Sidek et al., 1996).

Table 3.2: Viscosity at 3MHz – 9MHz for CPO sample.

Frequency, f (MHz) Viscosity, μ (cP)


0 35.6
3 33.4
6 31.9
9 29.2

Measurements were made of viscosity versus ultrasonic frequency for CPO sample as
depicted in Figure 3.2. The graph shows that viscosity decreases approximately linearly with
increasing ultrasonic frequency at constant temperature 30ºC.

40
35
30
Viscosity, μ (cP)

25
20
15
10
5
0
0 2 4 6 8 10
Frequency, f (MHz)

Figure 3.2: The influence of ultrasonic frequency on the viscosity of CPO.

By using the ultrasonic equipment, viscosity of the CPO will decrease as increasing the
ultrasonic frequency. This is because the vibrations from the ultrasonic equipment are able to break
the attractive forces among the oil molecules. According to Balasubrahmanyam et al. (2006), as the
frequency increases, the droplet size decreases. This means that when the ultrasonic frequency
increases, the droplet size of the CPO will decreases.
In the past literature, Rajan et al. (2001) has been reported that as the liquid phase viscosity
increases, the droplet size also increases. From the experiment, it shows that when increases the
ultrasonic frequency, it will reduced the droplet size of the CPO. Reducing of the droplet size of the
CPO will decreases the viscosity of the CPO.
Although, there are slightly changes in the reducing viscosity of the CPO, but, the ultrasonic
frequency is able to liquefy the solidified CPO. The decreasing of the viscosity will increase the flow
of the CPO. Hence, the flow of the CPO in the pipelines, tanks and lorry tankers will be increase.
4. Conclusion and Recommendations

The viscosity of the CPO at room temperature is too high to allow smooth flow in the
pipelines. From the result obtained, it is shows that the viscosity of the CPO is deceased with the
increasing of the temperature. The required smooth flow of CPO was achieved at temperature 50ºC,
at which all solid phase CPO has dissolved. By using ultrasonic equipment, it was found that
viscosity decreases approximately linearly with increasing ultrasonic frequency at constant
temperature. Although, there are slightly changes in the reducing viscosity of the CPO, but, the
ultrasonic frequency is able to liquefy the solidified CPO. Using jacketed steam and ultrasonic
equipment will increase the performance of the CPO in the pipelines. But, the most effective
mechanism is a by using jacketed steam. These research findings shall ease problems to CPO
transporter or pipeline users. Alternatively, it would contribute significantly in cost reduction of CPO
storage and handling. Further study for the improvement of the flow of during transportation handling
should be carried out. Other parameters and other mechanisms like using additives such as chitosan
can be studied. Besides, study on the effect of the high ultrasonic frequency on the CPO
compositions. Then, the suitable frequency should be determined for the best flow performance of
CPO.

5. Acknowledgements

The author would like to convey her thanks to her supervisor, Tuan Haji Mohd Noor Nawi
and to those who have indirectly contributed to this research.

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