REFINE project- Optimization of the refining process of vegetable oils and fats

This project aims to improve the refining process of vegetable oils for minimization of process contaminants and optimal product quality.

Project objectives

The project is divided into the following underlying objectives:

1. Development of mitigation strategies for reducing 3-MCPD, 2-MCPD and glycidol process contaminants

2. Pilot plant scale testing of the selected mitigation strategies

3. Development of chemical analytical methods for 3-MCPD, 2-MCPD and glycidol and their reaction intermediates

4. The development of multiresponse kinetic models for prediction of the formation of process contaminants


Vegetable oil processing conditions such as time, temperature, amount of bleaching earth, repeated deodorisation, and washing with water are examined for the reduction of 2- and 3-MCPD esters and glycidyl esters while maintaining product quality. The experiments are conducted in a specially equipped pilot plant. Chemical analysis tools for 2- and 3-MCPD esters and glycidyl esters are developed to test the effectiveness of the mitigation strategies. The focus of the project will initially be on palm oil, and later also on sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, etc. The formation of 2- and 3-MCPD esters and glycidyl esters runs through a complex reaction network. With the aid of non-targeted chemical methods of analysis, the reaction network can be mapped and with the multi-response kinetic models, the formation kinetics of 2- and 3-MCPD esters and glycidyl esters in relation to different processing conditions (time, temperature, amount of bleaching earth etc.) are examined. In this way, optimum processing conditions are determined, where quality of the finished product is maintained, and the concentration of the contaminants in processing the finished product is as low as possible.

Intended results

  • An overview of processing conditions with optimum product quality and minimized processing contaminants
  • Analytical methods for determination of 2-, 3-MCPD (esters) and glycidol (and its esters), and reaction intermediates.
  • An overview of the reaction network and kinetics using the multi-response kinetic models
  • Reports and workshops on the most promising mitigation approaches for reducing 2-, 3-MCPD (esters) and glycidol (and its esters)