Lecithin: GEA process ensures higher added value in the crushing plant

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18 Sep 2017 --- Vegetable lecithins are by-products of the production of soybean, sunflower and rapeseed oil. As natural emulsifying agents with first-class technological and nutritional-physiological properties, these lecithins are highly valued in the food industry in particular. Today, already more than 800 million people consume products daily which contain lecithin. More and more synthetic emulsifying agents and stabilizers are being replaced with lecithin. GEA process know-how ensures high lecithin quality and offers alternative pre-treatment for higher added value in the crushing plant. 

Birger Horns, GEA Sales Steering & Support Separation spoke with FoodIngredientsFirst: “The demand for high-quality and non-GMO lecithin is constantly growing and actually the lecithin producers need to keep up with this. We can support all oil and lecithin producers with a highly sophisticated technology to improve the lecithin quality according to consumer demands.”

“What is changing in this market is the demand for high-quality and non-GMO lecithin,” he explains. “We are using our well-known and proven centrifugal clarification technology in different stages of the production process to improve the quality according to the requirements.”

“Filtration could be an alternative to our GEA separators to clean the crude vegetable oils prior to lecithin production.”

“The space requirements for a filtration process are much higher compared to a separator installation and filtration is a semi-continuous process, which usually needs a lot more operator capacity for operation.”

Further advantages of the separation technology include:

  • No need for filter aid (lower operating cost)
  • Fully continuous process with no need for permanent operator supervision

Separation technology from GEA for high-quality lecithin
High-quality lecithins are characterized by a clear, bright color. This quality feature is requested especially in the production of foodstuffs, but also in many other applications. That means that solids content is decisive for the quality of your lecithin. But it is not simply getting the solids out of the process that makes for premium lecithin; it is the stage in which you remove them. The earlier you get them out of your process, the better the quality. For this reason, the ideal solution is to integrate miscella clarification already into your extraction stage. Only this early separation of solids from the miscella reduces the effects of thermal strain. The more solids you process through the second and third distillation stage the darker the color of lecithin.

GEA clarifiers convince economically and safety-related
Miscella clarification with GEA clarifiers does not only produce brighter lecithin. Moreover, it is distinctly more efficient than crude oil clarification. On account of the integration in the extraction stage, there are no oil losses and no waste water is produced. Another advantage is that filter aids are not required. It also keeps the distillation equipment clean. Usually, neither a cleaning during the year nor an increase of steam pressure to compensate fouling is necessary. GEA clarifiers for miscella clarification have a gas-tight design with nitrogen blanketing for reliable explosion protection.

People and production are protected safely. The integration of the clarifier takes up only a little space and additional operating staff is not required. These advantages also make miscella clarification extremely economical. If integration of miscella clarification is not possible, crude oil clarification is the next best choice. The clarification of the crude oil takes place after distillation. The advantage of this process setup is that the centrifuge is installed outside the explosion protected zone. Thus, you can use a standard centrifuge without any additional explosion protection design features and nitrogen blanketing.

New generation of GEA RSC clarifier
GEA centrifuges have been at home in the edible oil industry for decades. The new generation of GEA RSC clarifier series is ideally suited for lecithin processes. It is robust, long-lasting and with special features for optimal process control and product quality. To mention two features, for example, the hydrohermetic feed protects the product from exposure to high shearing forces through gentle product feed and the hydrohermetic vapor seal prevents vapors in the inlet space from causing turbidity in the oil.

GEA PerformancePlus – Predictive maintenance for 24/7 production
This service model has been developed especially for industrial sectors which depend on trouble-free production round the clock. Plants in the edible oil industry operate 24/7 throughout the entire year. Unintentional machine breakdowns have to be ruled out as far as possible. GEA PerformancePlus ensures availability with an intelligent and economic approach. A constant access to historical and up-to-date measured data give full control over the entire process cycle and the historical condition of the plant.

Algea AS

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ALGEA: THE ARCTIC COMPANY. Algea is one of the most important world leader in collecting and processing marine ingredients, that in 2017 will celebrate 80 years of work. Thanks to continuous development of specialized methods and equipments for harvesting and processing, Algea developed a unique processing life circle for seaweed, harvesting Arctic seaweeds and offering the highest quality ingredients for human nutrition, cosmetics, animal feed and fertilization. Northern Norway is also known as the “land of midnight sun” and thanks to these extreme condition this seaweed can develop its peculiar properties that make it unique.

Our marine ingredient Aschopyllum nodosum is  a seaweed with exceptional nutrients, that grows where the environment is pure and pristine and the sound of nature is the only audible noise. Immersed in the frigid Norwegian waters in winter and exposed continuously to the force of the sun in summer, our seaweed gathers natural elements of the highest purity and quality. We have three plants in Norway were we harvest and produce, the most northerly of which is on the only one in the world north of the Arctic Circle. One dedicated to the manufacturing of food and cosmetics ingredient, another one to animal feed and fertilizer ingredients and the last one, that is near the Arctic Circle, exclusively dedicated to the harvesting of seaweed.

Algea serves four markets: ingredients for human nutrition (food supplements and functional foods), ingredients for cosmetics, animal nutrition and fertilization. AlgeaFood products intended for human nutrition only come from seaweed harvested directly from Algea. Thanks to the presence of iodine, polyphenols, mannitol, vitamins, minerals and alginates, AlgeaFood products are ideal ingredients for functional foodstuffs and dietary supplements.

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