Effect of Prolonged Storage of Palm Kernel On the Characteristics And Stability Of Palm Kernel Oil


Effect of Prolonged Storage of Palm Kernel On the Characteristics And Stability Of Palm Kernel Oil


Palm kernel oil is an edible plant oil, derived from the kernel of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis).The palm fruit yields two distinct oils, palm oil derived from the outer part of the fruit and palm kernel oil derived from the kernel (Edem, 2002).

The oil palm is a tropical plant that grows in warm climates at altitude below 500 meters above sea level (Poku, 2002). It is generally believed that oil palm originated from the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, the main belt runs through the southern latitudes of Cameroun, coted’ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, sierra Leone, Togo, and unto the equatorial region of Angola and Congo. It was later introduced to tropical America by Portuguese slave traders and colonizers, who used it as part of the diet for their slaves in Brazil (Hartley, 1988). The plant appears to have thrived better in the Far East like Malaysia thus providing the largest commercial production of an economic crop far removed from its origin.

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The African oil palm is native to tropical African from Sierra Leone in the West through the Democratic republic of Congo in the east. It was domesticated in its range probably in Nigeria and moved throughout tropical Africa by humans who practiced shifting agriculture at least 500 years ago Europeans explorers discovered of palm in the late 1400’s and distributed it throughout the world during the slave trade era. The oil palm was introduced to the Americans hundreds of years ago where it became naturalized and associated with slave plantations, but did not become an industry of its own until 1960’s.

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Palm kernel has been reported to have freezing point of 20/15C, flash point of 242C (Alamu et al, 2007), smoke point of 232C. It also has a saponification value of 232.81mgKOH/g, iodine value of 41.24g/100g, free fatty acid of 5.85mgKOH/g, peroxide value of 1.70Meq/kg (Atasie and Akinhanmi, 2009)

There are various ways of extracting oil from the kernel as opined by (David and Vincent 1980), namely: Mechanical extraction, solvent extraction and the native traditional method of extraction.

  1. Mechanical extraction also known as screw pressing involves the manual or mechanized application of pressure on size reduced palm kernel flakes which results in extrusion of the oil based on the force of gravity and pressure applied to the small scale and large scale industries.
  2. The solvent extraction or chemical method which basically involves the use of a solvent (basically hexane) to extract oil achieved by a process of diffusion of the solvent into the flake cells resulting in a solution containing the solvent and the oil, this solution is known as the miscella.

Finally, the miscella is separated using separation processes such as evaporation, distillation, centrifugation etc. to recover or evaporate the solvent leaving the oil behind.

iii. Traditional method of extraction has been in existence before the solvent and mechanical extraction methods, it involves the frying of the palm kernel nut in old oil or the dried nuts are simply heated then poured and ground to paste in a motorized grinder. This paste is then mixed with a small quantity of water and heated to release the palm kernel oil on the top; this oil is then skimmed periodically.

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Palm kernel oil and its fractionated product are widely used either alone or in blends with other oils for the manufacture of cocoa butter substitutes and the other confectionary fats, biscuits, dough and filling cream, cake icings, ice cream, sharp melting creaming table margarines, vegetable oil etc (Poku, 2002). It is also used in the production of soaps, body creams and medically as anti-dotes for poisoning and as surface protectants for minor wounds (Poku, 2002).


Palm kernel oil is an important oil to the consumers but the problem is that it doesn’t stay long before solidification at room temperature.   Refined palm kernel oil produced from palm kernel that stayed up to 18 months from the time it arrived in Nigeria from cote d’ivoire was found to stay a much longer time before congealing at room temperature than those from locally sourced kernels which were relatively fresher. This has led to the suspicion that age of the palm kernel may have been responsible for this observation. The method employed in processing the palm fruit may also be contributory. This has motivated this study into investigating the effect of prolonged storage of palm kernel on characteristics of palm kernel oil.


The aim of this work is to determine the effect of prolonged storage of palm kernel on the characteristics and stability of palm kernel oil.


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