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Factors affecting the viscosity of palm oil

Factors affecting the viscosity of palm oil

(OP)
Hi all,

I am currently investigating the variation in the viscosity of the fat produced onsite from an emulsion of palm oil, water and lecithin. The fat deposited into the mixing bowls seems to have a fairly wide viscosity range - anything from 800 to 8000cP. I'd like to understand what factors are affecting this, so we can have a more consistent product.

The possibilities I've come up with are:

1) Temperature. This has an effect, with the ranges of the samples being from 27 to 34°C. However it isn't the only factor - several samples were at the same temperature had wildly different viscosities.

2) Agitation and shearing. Pumping the fat seems to reduce its viscosity. I would expect samples which have been recycled via the return lines, or which have further to travel, would be thinner.

3) Crystal formation. It's possible that sometimes we a re getting a mixture of alpha and beta prime crystal polymorphs, which would affect the consistency of the final product.

4) Maturation time. We may not be holding the fat for long enough to set it set in a consistent fashion.

Does anyone have any ideas about which of these factors (or more likely, which combination of these) will have the greatest effect on the viscosity? Where should I be focusing my initial investigations?
 

RE: Factors affecting the viscosity of palm oil

I'm no food science expert, but I lived awhile in a higher elevation of southern Mindanao, and it was common for morning temperatures to be in the high 50's (Fahrenheit).  Bottles of palm oil in the market would appear as lard, solidified and white.  Later in the day as the temperature warmed, they would be in liquid state.

I would have to say you've probably listed the factors in order of the greatest effect.

RE: Factors affecting the viscosity of palm oil

(OP)
Thanks for that.

I am currently investigating why the temperature is varying so much - at the moment it looks like the temperature probes aren't reading the correct tmeperature on the final segment of lagged pipework.

Once we've got that settled out I can look at other factors. Hopefully our suppliers can point me in the right direction.

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