About the book
Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil extracted from the mesocarp of the oil palm fruit, mainly the Elaeis guineensis African oil palm and to a lesser degree, from the American oil palm Elaeis oleifera and the maripa palm Attalea maripa. Oil palm is the most profitable crop of vegetable oil per unit area and is important to economy of developing countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. However, due to the impact it has on biodiversity, it is also extremely controversial. The expansion of oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia, includes the conversion of forests, and other forms of land in the landscapes that provide the livelihoods of clan members. The way this expansion takes place makes it important to understand the variables associated with why businesses are looking for frontier lands and what externalities are created during both the periods of land acquisition and plantation growth. We find that investors are encouraged to profit from timber harvested from plantation land clearing, an operation promoted by the local government. Also land acquisition and plantation growth have resulted in externalities to indigenous landowners in the form of time and money wasted. The reduced health of people due to the loss of livelihoods and the effect on food security are other externalities.
Palm oil, like all fats, is composed of fatty acids, esterified with glycerol. Palm oil has an especially high concentration of saturated fat, specifically the 16-carbon saturated fatty acid, palmitic acid, to which it gives its name. Monounsaturated oleic acid is also a major constituent of palm oil. Unrefined palm oil is a significant source of tocotrienol, part of the vitamin E family. Palm oil sludge or palm oil mill effluent (POME) is wastewater generated by processing oil palm and consists of various suspended materials. POME has a very high biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD), which is 100 times higher than municipal sewage. The effluent also contains a high concentration of organic nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrient contents. POME is a colloidal suspension consisting of 95–96% water, 0.6–0.7% oil and 4–5% total solids, including 2–4% suspended solids originating from a mixture of sterilizer condensate, separator sludge and hydrocyclone wastewater.
In terms of production, export, trade, and consumption, palm oil is the leading edible oil globally. With the bulk of palm oil used in foods, its role is well known in human nutrition. In addition to being a source of calories, the oil palm is a source of useful micronutrients, including β-carotene and tocotrienols (vitamin E isomers), due to its position as dietary fat. Energy-efficient usage is the key issue for our low-carbon society in future. The importance of the development of innovative energy materials and processes were well recognized for efficient energy systems. These, after extraction, have been extensively studied. In addition, to tackle vitamin A deficiency, unrefined "red palm oil" has been used. A water-soluble fraction of palm oil that is phenolic-rich has been available over the last decade and has also been the subject of more recent studies