The separation of lecithin and soya oil in a countercurrent column by near critical fluid extraction


  • Lecture at the “Jahrestreffen der Verfahrens-Ingenieure”, Hamburg 25. to 27. Sept. 1985.


The present contribution illustrates a way of developing a continuous separation process for near critical fluid extraction, on the example of separation of soya oil from lecithin. First, a suitable solvent was selected. Phase equilibria were measured in autoclaves. Operating conditions for a pilot plant were derived from the phase equilibrium data. The pilot plant experiments provided the necessary data for designing a production plant. Computer programs for phase equilibrium, stage to stage and mass and heat balance calculations were used in order to minimize the number of experiments. A production plant with a capacity of 500 t/a of raw lecithin was designed on the basis of experimental and computational results. A cost estimation, based on tenders, showed that it is more economical to produce lecithin by near critical fluid extraction than by conventional acetone extraction.