Vegetable Oil Processing with Non-Porous Polymer Membranes

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Compact Membrane Systems, Inc.
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Although conventional aqueous oil extraction which utilizes water as a solvent under atmospheric conditions has been around for a long time, it was not favored for large commercial operations because of its low oil extraction efficiency. Interest in aqueous extraction processes has been revived by increasing environmental concern about hexane which is the traditional solvent used by oilseed processors. The new technological developments such as accelerated solvent and enzyme aided water extraction methods improve oil yields and make aqueous processes economically viable as an environmentally benign cleaner alternative for oil extraction. The main limitation of aqueous extraction process is the formation of oil-in-water emulsion and its implications on downstream processing. Demulsification is one of the most critical processes associated with water extraction. Centrifugation and coalescence technology (addition of a compound that helps coalescence of oil as a continuous phase) are used to break emulsions. Centrifugation requires high energy input and the efficiency of the coalescence method tends to be low.Membrane technology can be an inexpensive and efficient alternative method for separation of oil and water phases from an emulsion. CMS has identified a low cost non-thermal process (room temperature) which can dramatically enhance separation of water from oil. Preliminary calculations suggest approximately 10-fold reduction in operating costs for the CMS membrane system. If this program is successful, we will be directly responsive to USDA & #39;s need for developing a process for using minimally or non-thermal techniques for food preservation. Since the process is low temperature with no gas-liquid interface, product degradation should be minimal and cost should be low.In this Phase I USDA SBIR, Compact Membrane Systems will work closely with Oklahoma State University to first fabricate targeted membrane modules and then demonstrate that these membrane modules can effectively remove water from wheat germ oil. Basic data from this evaluation will then be used for a preliminary economic evaluation of the drying process. Target processing costs are less than $0.01/gallon.