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Application of Nanocavitation Technology in Edible Oil Processing
Wim De Greyt
Desmet Ballestra Group, Minervastraat 1, Zaventem, Belgium
The big challenge for oil refiners today is to produce high quality oils with a sustainable and cost efficient process. New developments are therefore fully orientated towards processes that can meet these criteria.
One of the possible new techniques that could meet these goals is hydrodynamic cavitation (Nano Reactor Technology). Hydrodynamic cavitation is a known technique that is already used in the chemical industry and for biotechnological applications to improve mass transfer and increase reaction rates of (bio-)chemical reactions. It has also been described as a very efficient process for biodiesel production.
Studies on the potential applications of Nano Reactor Technology in edible oil refining, started a few years ago. Meanwhile, it has been tested with success in chemical neutralization (Nano Neutralization). Processing crude oil through a Nano Reactor will make the phospholipids more hydratable so they can be removed without the need of upstream acid treatment of the oil. This will result in a direct cost saving (elimination of the total acid cost and part of the caustic) and also in less oil losses in the soapstock. In addition, the neutralized oil contains less soaps which will make further refining (silica treatment or washing) more cost efficient.
Other potential applications of Nano Reactor Technology in edible oil processing that under studied include Nano Degumming of palm oil and Nano Degumming of soft oils (physical refining). It is expected that Nano Reactor Technology will also be a more cost efficient and environmentally friendly (sustainable) innovation for these standard unit operations of the oil refining process.
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