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A new conceptual process design and economic analysis of a fatty acids and glycerine production plant using palm oil

Toon Ming Foo, Tien Pei Kim, Shi Chin Ng, Fahad Saleem Ahmed Khan, Mohammad Syed Ali Moazzam, Mervyn Chi Yang Ling, and Wan Sieng Yeo

Department of Chemical Engineering, Curtin University Malaysia, Miri, Malaysia



Received: 9 September 2021  Accepted: 26 January 2022


This study aims to identify the feasibility of a conceptual process design and economic analysis of using palm oil to produce fatty acids and glycerine. The objective of this project is to obtain an annual production of 150 kilo tonnes of fatty acids with a purity of 99% and 50 kilo tonnes of glycerine with a purity of 99.7%. In this study, the analysis of the engineering technologies and the availability of raw supplies were evaluated with the contemporary market. The main processes of this production plant were illustrated in the form of a block diagram, a flow sheet, a P&ID diagram, and a stream table as well as the material and energy balances using Aspen HYSYS v8.6. The products, which are fatty acids, and glycerine were produced by the continuous oil splitting process, which is a hydrolysis reaction to achieve the objective with 99% purity. Besides, process optimization of the entire plant was performed and managed to recover 12.769 kWh of the energy utilities using heat integration. Furthermore, break-even and scenario analysis of this plant, including a base case, a best case, and a worst-case, were performed to determine the viability of the process plant. Under the economic analysis conducted for the base case, the total capital investment and annual productions of this plant are USD 17,446,517 and USD 468,865,794 per tonnes, respectively. With concordance of the average product price of USD 1561 per tonne acquired from market value, the return on investment and payback period are identified to be 32.4% and 2.67 years, respectively. Then, the net profit per annum is USD 5,653,056, comprising USD 28,912,834 of total operating cost. Hence, this conceptual process design for fatty acids and glycerine production is worth to be considered.

Keywords: Fatty acids; Glycerine; Splitting process; Palm oil; Aspen HYSYS; Plant design

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-022-02102-6


Chemical Papers 76 (6) 3471–3483 (2022)

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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