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Seeking Solvent-Glyceride Oil Separation Using Membrane Systems

Background / Description

The technology seeker is a Singaporean SME and a manufacturer and exporter of soya bean lecithin powder and liquid. They have a wide range of soya and sunflower lecithin powders and liquids for applications in food, feed and nutrition industry. Lecithin is a mixture of phospholipids, glycolipids, glycerides and other minor components. Vegetable origin lecithin is derived during stages of oil refining of soya, sunflower, rapeseed, or rice-bran oil.

Currently the extraction process is utilising solvents such as hexane and acetone to extract the oils. The solvent recovery method used in the extraction step of edible oil processing is distillation, which consumes large amounts of energy. The company is seeking alternative solvent recovery processes such as membrane processes to reduce the energy consumption.

The company seeks technology providers or collaborators to develop or test bed their technologies to determine the technical feasibility and commercial viability. The company is looking to validate and deploy first in Singapore by Q4 2018. Subsequently, the technology would be applied to their overseas plants.  Technology shall be proven with at least a working prototype (TRL7-9). Key expertise/technology sought include membrane operations, membrane system design and build, membrane/distillation hybrid systems.

Technical Specifications

The deployment environment is as follows:

  • Soy bean oil processing plant (Outdoor environment with exposure to high relative humidity, temperature up to 40 deg Celsius and typical tropical weather).
  • For solvent/oil separation, the solvents used are acetone and hexane and the soy bean oil is typically at 8%-10%; 
    • Process flow for acetone/soy oil mixture is 3t/h 
    • Process flow for hexane/soy oil mixture is 1.5t/h
  • The process fluid will contain trace components naturally found in edible oils, such as proteins, DNA, glucoses, phospholipids, glycolipids, etc. 
  • For acetone/water separation after distillation process;
    • 20 deg Celsius
    • Ratio of water to acetone is 6:1
    • Process flow is 200 l/h

Developed cleaning technology shall have the following requirements:

  • The membrane for solvent recovery should combine specific properties such as;
    • High rejection of oil
    • High permeate fluxes
    • Mechanical, thermal and chemical resistances compatible with the process
    • Ease of membrane operations, cleaning and maintenance
    • Minimal membrane swelling
    • The overall separation process should improve energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption, minimal usage of industrial chemicals for cleaning and minimize loss of solvents.
    • Expected oil quality which is measured in terms of absence of residual hexane and oil color should be same or better than current process.
    • Expected output of the filtration process is at least 50% oil concentration.
    • Expected permeate would be the solvent with minimal carryover of any.

What we are not interested in

Distillation technology

Preferred Business Model

  • Licensing
  • Business Collaboration (Joint Venture, Distribution)

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