Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The fruit is reddish, about the size of a large plum and grows in large bunches. A bunch of fruits can weigh between 10 to 40 kilograms each. Each fruit contains a single seed (the palm kernel) surrounded by a soft oily pulp. Oil is extracted from both the pulp of the fruit (palm oil, an edible oil) and the kernel (palm kernel oil, used mainly for soap manufacture).
For every 100 kilograms of fruit bunches, you typically extract 22 kilograms of palm oil and 1.6 kilograms of palm kernel oil.
Both palm and palm kernel oil are high in olefins, a potentially valuable chemical group that can be processed into many non-food products as well.
The high productivity of the Oil palm at producing oil (as high as 7,250 liters per hectare per year) has made it the prime source of vegetable oil for many tropical countries. Also, it is seen as a potential resource for producing the necessary vegetable oil for biodiesel.
The Oil palm originated in West Africa but has since been planted successfully in tropical regions within 20 degrees of the equator. The world's largest producer and exporter of palm oil today is Malaysia, producing about 50% of the world's supply of palm oil.
Indonesia is the second largest world producer of palm oil producing approx 30% of world palm oil volume.
Both nations are expanding the palm oil capacity and the market continues to grow.
There is evidence of palm oil use in Ancient Egypt.
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