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Fat Splitting

For Production of Fatty Acids and Crude Glycerine

Oil splitting (or hydrolysis) is usually performed with highpressure steam, resulting in the formation of crude split of fatty acids and crude glycerine dissolved in the excess water.

Type of Feedstock
Oil (consisting of mainly TG, DG and MG) can be splitted by hydrolysis. In industrial practice, the most widely used feedstocks are tallow, lard, palm oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil as well as fatty acid distillate from refining plant.

Different types of fats and oils are used to yield the appropriate chain length profile for the desired products.

Splitting Process

In the splitting process, hydrolysis reaction proceeds in stages whereby the fatty acid radical in a triglyceride is displaced one at a time: from triglyceride to diglyceride, to monoglyceride and finally to glycerol:

• TG + H2O <--> DG + FFA
• DG + H2O <--> MG + FFA
• MG + H2O <--> Glycerol + FFA

An incomplete fat splitting process will result in a product contains mixture of mono-, dias well as up to some extent triglyceride.

Fat splitting is a reversible reaction. When equilibrium is reached, the rate of hydrolysis will be equal to re-esterification. Thus, glycerine (by-product) must be drawn continuously for the completion of forward reaction.

Process Description
Hydrolysis process occurs at temperature of 245 ~ 255 °C and pressure between 55 ~ 60 bar.

a) De-aeration
Crude oil is heated and deaerated under vacuum to remove un-dissolved gasses before entering subsequent high temperature splitting section.

b) Splitting
In the Splitter, fatty acids are produced by counter-current splitting of oil with steam under temperatures up to 260 °C and pressures up to 60 bar.

Typical carbon distribution (fatty acid chain length and unsaturation) for fats and oils (in wt%)

c) Fatty Acid Drying
The fatty acids from splitter are flashed and dried to remove the residual moisture. The crude fatty acids are relatively dark in color and contain impurities.

The fatty acids are subsequently purified or separated into fractions through distillation or fractionation.

d) Glycerine-Water Pre-Concentration

Crude glycerine is discharged from the bottom of splitter continuously. Crude glycerine water is first flashed before entering the evaporation stage.

Concentration of crude glycerine obtained after the multiple effect evaporators is about 25% ~ 35 %.

Water flashed from crude glycerine is used for heat recovery in the multi-stage evaporators before pumped back to the splitter for reuse.
Process Features:

o High splitting degree of 99% and above

o Built-In Internal heat exchanger for maximum thermal efficiency

o Continuous process

o Low steam consumption

o Multi-effect evaporation for glycerine-water ensure highest possible steam economy

o Consistent product quality

o Fully automated for ease of operation


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