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PROCESSING & TECHNOLOGY
FIGURE 1: COMPUTER IMAGE OF A NANO REACTOR (INTERNAL)
Source: Cavitation Technology Inc
Nano cavitation: a proven new concept
Nano neutralisation is a novel technology which increases oil yield while substantially reducing the chemicals required to produce refined vegetable oils. Dr Marc Kellens explains the process behind the technology
Most vegetable oils need to be refined to render them more suit- able for their final use, be it human consumption or industrial use. The main components to be removed are the free fatty acids (FFAs) and phospho- lipids. They are usually removed by applying a caustic soda and acid treatment in neutralisa- tion and degumming, respectively.
Apart from these main unwanted oily sub- stances, other minor components are also removed in refining.
Over the last decades, some important improvements have been introduced in oil treatment processes. Improved mixing of chem- icals in caustic soda and acid treatment using ultra high shear mixers, and the introduction of enzymes (phospholipases) to specifically attack the gums, have substantially improved the effi- ciency of these wet oil treatment processes.
Today, a modern neutralising plant can pro- duce oil with less than 0.05% FFAs and less than 5ppm in phospholipids in the oil exiting the plant.
The use of computer-controlled instruments and the development of better performing cen- trifugal separators have further helped vegetable oil refiners to better control their operation, decreasing their operating costs and improving oil yields. However, the basic process has remained unchanged for several decades.
Nano cavitation has now found its way into these processes and the first industrial applica- tion, nano neutralisation, is being commer- cialised successfully.
Nano neutralisation is a real novel, patented
technology developed by Cavitation Technology Inc (CTI), USA, and introduced to the oils and fats processing industry by Belgium’s Desmet Ballestra. It has been proven to increase oil yield and substantially reduce the chemicals required to produce refined vegetable oil while maintaining, and even improving, oil quality.
The heart of the technology is the Nanocavitation reactor. A nano reactor is a sta- tic device with no moving parts (see Figure 1,
above). Its name is derived by the creation of nanometer-sized bubbles that are formed while the fluid is pumped through the nano reactor under high pressure, creating an intense hydro- dynamic cavitation.
Which physical and chemical actions actu- ally take place in the nano reactor is not yet fully understood, but its effect is amazing.
Crude vegetable oil is pumped through a series of scientifically designed geometries.
FIGURE 2: TYPICAL NANO NEUTRALISATION PROCESS FLOW DIAGRAM
Source: Desmet Ballestra
? OFI – AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2012 www.oilsandfatsinternational.com
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