fracTron Falling Film Evaporator
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Specs Video FAQ Features

fracTron is a three-stage fractional solvent distillation system designed for rapid and complete removal of volatiles from liquids. It supports throughput capacity of 40 gallons per hour in a continuous process flow. 

The fracTron can support three independent fractional separations with independent mass flow and temperature control. An inert carrier gas is incorporated to accelerate throughput while eliminating flammability concerns.

Programmable methods enable automated GMP process control with reporting, and GMP certified stainless-steel materials support global market requirements.

 

GMP Documentation Option

  • Materials certs

  • Calibration certs

  • SOPS including operation, cleaning, calibration

  • URS Template

  • FAT and SAT Protocols and Testing

     

Check Certifications and Standards

Fractron Falling Film Evaporator Training

  • Included in purchase price

  • On-site 16 hrs including installation 

  • Optional training at demo location

  • Training documentation/curriculum

Falling Film Evaporator Video - How It Works



Frequently Asked Questions

What does a falling film evaporator do?

Falling film evaporators are largely used to remove a solvent from a liquid mixture by evaporating the more volatile component. Compared to wiped film evaporators, falling film evaporators: have a higher heated surface area per footprint, are less equipped to distill highly viscous mixtures, and are much better equipped to distill a solvent at a high throughput. Falling film evaporators are vertical in orientation, and have a bundle of metal tubes in a metal container. The metal tubes are then heated with a flowing media and the heat is transferred to the liquid mixture to evaporate the volatile component as the mixture flows down the tubes. Single stage falling film evaporators have high surface area and can be set to a single temperature.

How clean is the ethanol coming from the falling film still?

Purity of product depends on many things such as temperature and flow rate of the heated media, flow rate of the liquid mixture to be distilled, pressure of the system, surface area of the heated surfaces, and mechanism of vapor-liquid separation. Depending on these conditions, most falling film evaporators remove 80-95% of ethanol from the starting mixture.

Are solvent residuals still left in the oil after distillation?

Complete removal of solvent is hard to achieve with a single stage falling film evaporator because of the single temperature setpoint. As the liquid mixture flows through the tubes of the falling film evaporator, it changes composition due to vaporization of the volatile component. The change in composition changes the physical properties of the macroscopic mixture - including the boiling point. The fracTRON utilizes a triple pass falling film system to change the operating temperature of the evaporator as the temperature of the liquid mixture changes.

How does a falling film evaporator fit in my workflow?

Ethanol is the most common solvent for removal of fats and waxes from a plant extract and it needs to be removed from the mixture for downstream product refinement. Ratios of ethanol/winterized oil are typically between 4/1 and 10/1, high capacity falling film evaporators are necessary for large scale removal of ethanol from plant extracts.

What is the footprint, power, and heat load for the equipment?

  1. L92” x W39” x H88”, 80 FLA at 230VAC, 50/60 hz, 3 phase

  2. Heat load of equipment is estimated at 4000 W-hr

What is the surface area of the unit and how does that impact throughput?

Each stage contains 52 square feet of heated surface area for product evaporation. Generally, as surface area for product evaporation increases, the throughput of the system increases.

What yield should we expect from the falling film evaporator?

Yield of plant extract is generally near 100%. Plant extracts have much higher boiling points than that of ethanol and the flow path of ethanol vapor is engineered so that if aggressive boiling of ethanol causes entrainment of plant extracts, the plant extracts are forced out of the vapor.

Is degassing required after treatment with a falling film evaporator?

Depending on the operating conditions, degassing is still required after subjecting the extract/ethanol mixture to falling film evaporation. Degassing decreases the ethanol content of the mixture from ~10-15% from the evaporator to 2% which is required for wiped film evaporation. The time it takes to degass is largely dependent on the starting ethanol content as well.

Does the system come with methods?

Methods and formulas are delivered with the system.

Can I collect distillate from different stages independently?

With an optional piping package, yes. Having the ability to be set to 3 different setpoints throughout the system, select components can be evaporated and collected preferentially. This is particularly useful for industrial fractioning of terpenes.

What is the difference between wiped film evaporation, thin film evaporation, and short path distillation?

  1. All of these technologies utilize the same physical property to achieve separation of a liquid mixture - differences in boiling points. The primary differences are heat transfer technologies of the evaporative and condensing surfaces, and the path the vapor travels from one to the other. A “film” is an efficient way of achieving high evaporation rate because heat and mass transfer resistance decreases as the film thickness decreases.  A film can be achieved on the evaporator surface if the viscosity is favorable to allow a film to form or if a mechanical wiper assists in producing the film.  

  2. Wiped film evaporation creates a thin film along the evaporative surface using spinning wiper blades and is typically used with highly viscous mixtures.  

  3. Falling film evaporation typically addresses a fluid that can produce a free flowing film without any mechanical assistance.  This generally applies to fluids with viscosities with 2 cP or less. In falling film evaporation, a liquid mixture flows down a heated column to evaporate a volatile component.  These columns commonly have tubes to improve heat transfer and increase the evaporative surface area. 

  4. Short path distillation utilizes a round bottom flask, heating mantle, and glass condenser situated on top of the round bottom.  Material is introduced to the round bottom flask, the heating mantle heats the mixture until components volatilize. The volatile components  that are vaporized are carried to another chilled vessel to recondense. The technique is largely batch in nature. 

  5. Spinning band distillation is a short path distillation system  with a special helical condenser situated at the top of the apparatus that provides better precision on the volatile component being condensed.  Most short path distillation systems use single straight tube condensers that require greater difference in boiling points in order to separate.

How do you clean the fracTRON?

The system is cleaned by flushing with clean ethanol. The fracTRON has a piping manifold for even distribution of the liquid mixture which also helps to force cleaning solvent into potentially clogged tubes. The apparatus is easily disassembled for inspection.

How is the ethanol vapor separated from the unevaporated liquid?

Most falling film evaporators utilize a siphon to decrease the pressure within the falling film evaporator (decreasing the boiling point of the liquids) and direct the flow of the vapor to a condenser.

How does the fracTRON help reduce maintenance and automate cleaning?

The fracTRON is a continuous system, it doesn’t require disassembly between runs. When it needs to be cleaned, simply run the system with clean ethanol at 50C (in all columns). If inspection is required, remove the top two clamps to swab the surfaces.

What is the advantage of a triple pass?

Distillation of liquid mixtures with high ratios of solvent to extract results in drastic changes in physical properties of the mixture as the distillation proceeds. Removing the last percentages of ethanol compared to the first is far more difficult, especially in a single pass system with only one temperature setpoint. Changing the temperature of the heated media as the mixture becomes more concentrated with plant extract makes it more likely that the ethanol will be evaporated to completion.

Can I use this system for ethanol, CO2 or butane extraction methods?

The fracTRON can be used for any extraction method that requires solvent removal. Typically ethanol is either used as an extraction solvent or as a dewaxing solvent, both of which require ethanol removal afterwards. This machine can also be used to recover hydrocarbon solvents used to create CBD isolate.

Can I feed my ethanol/extract mixture directly into the falling film evaporator?

Yes, the system is engineered to fit directly into any batch or continuous extraction process.

Does distillation replace chromatography?

No, distillation separates a mixture of liquid components by boiling point. Chromatography separates a mixture of liquid components by chemical interactions.

Will I be able to separate THC from CBD using this equipment?

No, the boiling points of THC and CBD are too close to separate one from the other without impurities present.

Can I use the equipment for hemp and cannabis?

Yes.

Do I need to decarboxylate before distillation?

It is not required to decarboxylate before subjecting to falling film evaporation.

What is entrainment and how will it affect the quality of the oils?

Entrainment is when volatile components evaporate so aggressively that they bubble/splash and entrain a nonvolatile component in the headspace. Entrainment seldomly occurs in falling film evaporators because of the vapor flow path. Siphoning the vapor vertically prevents any liquids from staying entrained.

Features

The fracTron offers the following advantages:

  • 40 gal/hour capacity
  • 3-stage fractional separation
  • Inert carrier gas

fracTron extended features:

PROCESSING POWER

  • 40 gallons/hour solvent removal
  • Continuous process flow reduces labor
  • Complete solvent removal eliminates secondary processing
  • Inert carrier gas for safe operation
  • 3 independent fractional separations
  • Shorter run times, reduces dontime.

PROCESSING CONTROL

  • 3 stills independently controlled
  • Containment between stages
  • Programmable methods with user authentication
  • Out-of-operating-spec alarms
  • Mass flow tracking of yields
  • Data visualizaiton and alarms
  • WIFI enabled monitoring and control

GMP COMPLIANCE

  • Lot, calibration and maintenance tracking
  • Barcode-enabled paper and electronic traceability
  • CID2 compliant
  • VOC detector and alarms
  • Z-purged electronics for NFPA compliance
  • GMP compliant wetted materials
  • Easy clean-in-place capabilities

Specifications

fracTron Brochure

ATTRIBUTE VALUE
General Specifications  
Dimensions L92” x W39” x H88”
Footprint 25 sq ft
Shipping Weight 1500 lbs
Sound Pressure <60 db
Electrical Specifications  
Voltage 208-240 volt
Frequency 60 Hz
FLA 80 amps
Phase 3
Certifications UL 698A Listed
E-stop; Thermal Switches Standard
Fluidics  
Number of Pumps 6
Valves 7
Control Interface  
Control Interface HMI panel
Network Connectivity Cat5e
Process Integration igwLAB compatible
Data Logging On screen
Installation and Training  
Included training & install 2 days
Warranty  
Quality and Labor Parts & workmanship
Duration  3 years
Evaporators   
Heater Footprint (external) L41” x W45” x H51”
Vessels 3
Evaporator Vessel Volume 16 L /ea
Operating Pressure 10 psia
Heating Range 38 – 260° C
Heating Capacity  6-18 kW/zone
Heating Zones of Control 3
Heater Reservoir 58 gallons
Heater Fluid Delf 600
Condensers  
Chiller Footprint (external) L48” x W28” x H39”
Number of Condensers 3
Condenser Exchange Area 21.6 ft2
Cooling Range -15 - -1° C
Condensers (continued)  
Cooling Capacity 54 kW at 30° C
Chiller Fluid 35/65 glycol/water
Collection Vessels  
Collection Vessel Volume 22 L
Operating Pressure  10 psia
Ethanol Collectors 1
Materials  
Metals SS 316
Polymers PTFE

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