I had the honor of getting to tour an excellent plant that extracts the oils from the fruit. The name of the plant was Palcasa. Perhaps "Palcasa" is a contraction of palma casa, or house of palms, sorta? "Palm House... in the middle of our street."
At any rate, this plant is one of a dozen large plants in Honduras and produces about 10% of the country's output. This particular plant has won environmental awards because of the way they use their waste streams to produce energy, and that is why I am writing about it.
[The Palcasa plant for extracting oil from African Palms]
At this point something clever happens. The fruit is separated from the raquis and goes onto further processing. The wasted biomass material left over from the raquis goes to a giant furnace where it is burned. From this they produce the steam used at the plant in addition to generating electricity with a steam turbine. They produce 3.4 MW of power this way (equals 34,000 one hundred Watt light bulbs). The plant uses a lot of this power, and they sell the rest to the national electrical grid. If they had to purchase this electricity it would cost them over $8000 per day!!
The nut is removed from the pulp and the two parts go their separate ways, never to be reunited. There is some crying at this point, and hugging, and taking of pictures with cell phones. But eventually the pulp goes to have its oil extracted and the nut goes on for further processing. The oil that comes out is a mirky orange substance about the color of a pumpkin. It's called crude oil at this point, and goes on to get filtered and sold. After the oil extraction, the leftover solid wastes join their raquis brethren in the furnace to be burned.
[The crude oil is stored in these tanks. The hill on the right has a young plantation that is probably not yet producing fruit. The trees are planted in rows and columns 10 meters apart so that when they are fully grown their canopies will not crowd each other.]
[The nuts after being separated from the pulp]
At this point the nuts are opened and the almonds are removed and crushed to remove the high value palmiste oil. I'm not sure how this is done; I think he said something about an army of ballerinas and Tchiakovsky at Christmas, but I may have missed something in the translation. After the oil is removed from the almond, what remains is a meal sold as feed for chickens and other livestock. The shell from the nut goes to the furnace. Everything is used in one way or another.