Current and future technologies for the sustainable and cost-efficient production of high quality food oils

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Abstract

The production of high quality food oils in a cost-efficient and also sustainable way requires a new refining approach and “next generation” oil refining processes are developed to meet the new refining standards. Nano-neutralization was recently successfully introduced in chemical refining as first industrial application of the nano-reactor® technology. Proven advantages include significant lower chemicals consumption and a higher refined oil yield. A better understanding of the working principle will definitively result in more applications in edible oil processing. Enzymatic degumming was (re-)discovered as efficient degumming technique making not only degummed oils suitable for physical refining giving but also giving a higher yield. Bleaching is gradually converted from a single stage “bleaching” into a multi-stage adsorptive purification process in which a wide range of unwanted components (soaps, phospholipids, oxidation products, trace metals, contaminants, etc.) are removed prior to deodorization. This is achieved by a more systematic use of more efficient adsorbents (bleaching earths, silica hydrogels, and activated carbon). Recent trends and developments in deodorization include more efficient heat recovery, improved stripping tray design and integration of packed column strippers, reducing heat load by application of dual temperature deodorizers and low pressure (ice condensing) vacuum systems and reducing oil losses and increasing the value of the deodorizer distillate by improved (dual) vapor scrubbers. Other technologies like short path distillation and supercritical CO2 technology have also been investigated but are not (yet) broadly applied because of too high operating cost. Although there is the growing importance of oil quality and sustainable processing, potential cost saving and/or oil yield increase remain the prime parameters for the implementation of a new process.

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