In today’s world, one abundantly available resource is food material. In this, a major source of protein and vegetable oil comes from oilseeds which is processed using solvent extraction, a method that efficiently separates high-protein meal solids from the high-energy edible oil. The resulting extracts are used for a multitude of purposes like in the manufacture of food, soaps, spirits, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.
Solvent extraction is considered the most reliable and efficient form of extraction. With the correct solvent extraction equipment, one is guaranteed to create highly potent extractions that are produced in an environment friendly manner, at lower costs. Furthermore, solvent extraction can be carried out with many solvents, like propane, hexane, ether, ethanol, heptane, butane etc. Each of these solvents perform differently when it comes to solvent extraction, and the quality of extracts from one solvent may differ from another. Needless to say, each solvent is used to form a different and specific product.
Qualities of a Solvent Extractor
Let’s have a look at what makes a solvent extractor create superior quality extracts. There are certain qualities that work irrespective of the type of extraction equipment one chooses to use.
- Shallow and Deep Bed
Shallow and deep bed machines are important to consider. The depth of the extractor lead is of vital importance as it needs to hold a larger quantity of extractions. Typically, a shallow bed machine is one which measures up to 1 meter in depth, and a deep bed machine is one that carries a bed that measures more than a meter.
While both produce good results, preparation of the oilseeds and navigating operating settings vary from machine to machine.
- Adequate Washing
Research suggests that extraction occurs only under a solvent or miscella wash, where the bed is completely saturated with miscella. To have a pure solvent product, it is important to wash all particles uniformly and change out the higher concentration of miscella at every stage.
When it comes to loading, 2 types of loading are considered: Dry loading and Slurry loading. Certain deep bed extractors are flooded with solvent so as to wet every area of the bed. In case of ‘channeling’, the solvent runs down the side walls and cell walls and does not contact certain areas of the bed effectively.
A shallow bed unit, on the other hand, is generally loaded dry. Even here, it is imperative that the solvent gets equally distributed across the bed such that in comes in contact with all the particles.
- Automatic Level and Speed Control
This is designed to be a part of the inlet hopper where the system adjusts the speed of the drive to automatically match the feed rate of the material into the machine. It not only decreases the work for the operator, it also increases the efficiency of the machine.
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