Production of Active Personal Care Ingredients Based on Palm Kernel Oil for Import Substitution

The cosmetics industry in Indonesia experiences market growth every year. One important segment in the cosmetics industry is sanitary products which have driven the industry’s growth, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, until now Indonesia is still importing the raw material Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) in large quantities, namely 15,000 tons/year or the equivalent of 20 million US dollars.

CAPB is a surfactant, which is the most important component in personal care products. “Surfactants are a group of compounds that have polar groups and nonpolar groups so they can dissolve oil in water,” said ITB Scientist from the Biomass and Food Processing Technology Expertise Group, Faculty of Industrial Technology (FTI), Dr. Ir. Meiti Pratiwi, S.T., M.T.

Compared to the commonly used sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium lauryl ether sulphate (SLES), CAPB is gentler and less irritating. With the price of CAPB produced overseas being cheaper, large manufacturers of personal care products still use imported CAPB.

“Coconut oil as a raw material for CAPB production has a similar structure to palm kernel oil. With a production route similar to CAPB, palm kernel oil can produce the equivalent compound of CAPB, namely palm kernel amidopropyl betaine (PKAPB). “PKAPB can be produced from palm kernel oil fatty acids,” said Dr. Meiti is leading research on PKAPB production from palm kernel oil oil and fatty acids for substitution of imported Cocamidopropyl betaine.

This research aims to develop PKAPB production technology from palm kernel oil fatty acids that is applicable to small and medium scale industries. In the first year, research was divided into two major agendas, namely producing PKAPB with fairly high yields and product purity at affordable production costs, and application of PKAPB products in sanitation products in the form of liquid soap.

“Optimization is carried out on operating variables such as reaction temperature and reactant to feed ratio. PKAPB product applications for liquid soap are characterized to ensure proper and safe sanitary products. “In the second year, research focused on developing PKAPB production on the small and medium enterprise (UKM) scale,” explained Dr. Meiti.

At the end of this first year, three process routes for betaine surfactant were compared, namely the Keough (1960), Bade (1985), and Acikalin (2006) processes. By using raw materials in the form of pure lauric acid, the most superior process route and operating conditions are obtained. These operating conditions were successfully applied to fatty acids from palm kernel oil with adequate quality parameters and equivalent to commercial CAPB products.

This research will be followed up by testing the PKAPB prototype in applications in partner cosmetics industries in the second year. “Exploration of alternative routes shows that there is an opportunity to produce betaine surfactants using vegetable oil as raw material instead of fatty acids, and research can be further developed regarding this goal,” said Dr. Meiti.

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