Crude vegetable oils consist mainly of triglycerides or neutral oil with fat-soluble and suspended impurities. The nontriglyceride fraction contains variable quantities of impurities such as free fatty acid, phospholipids (gums), color pigments, metal complexes, sterols, waxes, carbohydrates, proteins, water, and dirt. Most of these impurities are detrimental to the quality of the finished product and thus the requirement of purification of crude has has gained more attention. Permionics can offer membrane processes which can help to remove these impurities providing a good quality of oil at much cheaper cost as compared to traditional methods.
The removal of phospholipids (“degumming”) is the first step of crude vegetable oil refining process. Conventional methods uses water degumming where crude oil is treated with water, salt solutions, or dilute acid to remove phospholipids. This process changes phosphatides into hydrated gums, which are insoluble in oil and are separated from the oil by filtering, settling, or centrifugal action. In this procedure, a considerable loss of neutral oil occurs and a large amount of wastewater is produced, and the energy consumption is fairly large. To overcome this we can provide membrane processes for the degumming of crude oil/hexane mixture and this will offer better savings compared to all the traditional methods currently in use.
Apart from triglycerides, crude oil contains different impurities such as fatty acid, phospholipids (gums), color pigments, metal complexes, sterols, waxes, carbohydrates, proteins, water, and dirt. Colored materials, some free fatty acids and other impurities are trapped by the reverse micelles and thus can be removed by using our membrane processes. Our membrane processes can also be used for the separation of free fatty acids (FFA) and triglycerides and thus help to reduce the FFA content in the crude oil. The advantages of this technology are that it is simple, it can be done at ambient temperature if required, and it demands a small amount of energy. Further, since no chemicals are used there is no wastewater generation.
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