Wiped film distillation is an advanced technique used for the separation of volatile components from less volatile ones in a mixture. As an innovative method, it has gained popularity across various industries due to its efficiency and effectiveness. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of wiped film distillation and explore how it works.

By understanding the principles behind wiped film distillation and learning about its benefits, you can make informed decisions on whether or not to incorporate this technology into your own operations.

What is Wiped Film Distillation?

Wiped film distillation, also known as thin-film distillation or short-path distillation, is a highly efficient separation technique used in the purification and concentration of various natural medicinal compounds. This process employs a rotating heated wiper blade to spread a thin film of liquid over the heated surface of a cylindrical evaporator. The primary goal of wiped film distillation is to separate volatile components from less volatile ones by taking advantage of their different boiling points.

The unique design and mechanism employed in wiped film distillers make them particularly suitable for processing heat-sensitive materials, high-viscosity liquids, and mixtures with high solid content. Apart from its use in cannabis, wiped film distillation is also employed across various other industries, such as pharmaceuticals, food processing, cosmetics, and more.

Key Components:

  • Evaporator: A cylindrical vessel where the feed liquid comes into contact with the heated surface for vaporization.
  • Rotor assembly: Consists of multiple wiper blades that rotate at controlled speeds to create an even distribution of liquid on the evaporator’s surface.
  • Vacuum system: Maintains low pressure inside the evaporator chamber, which helps lower boiling points and reduce thermal degradation risks.
  • Cooling system (condenser): Cools down vapors produced during evaporation back into their liquid form for collection as purified products or solvent recovery purposes.
clearSTILL 400 wiped film evaporator

Different Types Of Wiped Film Distillers:

In general, wiped film distillers can be classified into two main categories:

  1. Single-stage wiped film evaporators: These systems consist of a single evaporator and condenser. They are typically used for simple separations where the target component has a significantly different boiling point from other components in the mixture.
  2. Multi-stage wiped film evaporators: Also known as fractional or staged thin-film distillation units, these systems incorporate multiple evaporators and condensers arranged in series to achieve higher separation efficiency. This configuration is ideal for complex mixtures with closely related boiling points or when several distinct fractions need to be collected simultaneously.

In conclusion, the choice between single- and multi-stage wiped film distillers depends on factors such as desired product purity, feedstock characteristics, throughput requirements, and budget constraints. To determine which type of system best suits your needs, it’s essential to consult with experienced professionals like those at extraktLAB, who can guide you through the selection process based on their extensive knowledge of various industry applications.

Wiped film distillation is a powerful tool for producing pure, high-quality products from complex mixtures. Grasping how wiped film distillation works can help elucidate its advantages and how it may be utilized in herbal treatments.

How Does Wiped Film Distillation Work?

Wiped film distillation is a highly efficient and advanced method of separating components in a liquid mixture based on their boiling points. This process involves the use of an evaporator, wiper blade system, and condenser to create high-purity distillate. In this section, we will explore the steps involved in wiped film distillation and how it differs from other traditional methods.

The first step in wiped film distillation is introducing the feed liquid into the wiped film evaporator. The feed liquid can be any mixture that requires separation or purification, such as essential oils or pharmaceutical compounds. Once inside the evaporator, a rotating heated wiper blade spreads the liquid into a thin, uniform layer across its surface area.

  • Vaporization: As soon as the thin layer of feed liquid comes into contact with the heated surface of the evaporator, it begins to vaporize rapidly due to increased heat transfer efficiency. This rapid vaporization allows for faster processing times compared to conventional methods like simple batch distillation.
  • Differentiation: During vaporization, different components within the mixture separate according to their individual boiling points. Substances with lower boiling points can vaporize more speedily than those having higher temperatures. This differentiation enables precise control over which substances are collected at various stages throughout the wiped film evaporation process.
  • Condensation: After successful differentiation and separation through selective vaporization have occurred, these vapors then travel towards an external condenser where they cool down and transform back into liquids – now separated from one another by their unique properties (boiling point).
  • Collection: The newly formed liquid distillate is collected in a separate container, while the remaining residue (or “waste”) stays behind on the evaporator surface. This waste can be removed and disposed of or further processed if necessary.

The wiped film distillation process offers several advantages over traditional methods like simple batch distillation or fractional column separation. For example, it provides a shorter residence time for feed liquids, which reduces the risk of thermal degradation – especially important when working with heat-sensitive materials such as essential oils or pharmaceutical compounds. Additionally, its ability to handle high-viscosity and high-solids mixtures makes it ideal for processing various types of materials without requiring any changeover.

In comparison to other short-path distillation techniques like molecular stills, wiped film evaporators offer superior scalability due to their larger surface area and more efficient wiper blade systems. These features allow them to accommodate large batches of liquids for distillation while maintaining consistent performance throughout the entire process.

Wiped film distillation is a highly efficient and effective method of separating compounds, making it an invaluable tool for the production of natural medicines. With its many advantages over traditional methods, wiped film distillation can help ensure that consumers get access to high-quality products with maximum purity.

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Advantages of Wiped Film Distillation

This advanced technique offers several advantages over traditional distillation processes that make it an ideal choice for many applications.

Shortens Residence Time of the Feed Liquid

The wiped film evaporator’s design allows the feed liquid to spread into a thin layer across the heated surface area. This significantly reduces the residence time required for vaporization compared to other methods like fractional distillation. As a result, sensitive compounds are less likely to degrade or decompose during the process.

Speeds up Heat Transfer

In wiped film distillation, heat transfer occurs rapidly due to direct contact between the thin liquid layer and heated surface. The increased heat transfer rate enables faster evaporation rates while maintaining lower temperatures overall – essential when working with temperature-sensitive materials.

Processes High-Viscosity and High-Solids Materials

  • Ease of handling: The wiper blade system efficiently spreads high-viscosity liquids into thinner films without clogging or creating pressure drops common in other types of evaporators.
  • Better separation: Wiped film evaporators can handle high-solids content feeds more effectively than traditional methods by preventing fouling on heating surfaces through continuous agitation provided by wipers.

Refines Heat-Sensitive and Dirty Materials

The short residence times, coupled with low operating temperatures, make wiped film distillations particularly suitable for refining heat-sensitive compounds such as cannabinoids and pharmaceutical ingredients. Additionally, the self-cleaning action of wiper blades helps remove impurities from dirty materials during processing.

Allows Large Batches of Liquids for Distillation

The wiped film evaporator’s design enables it to handle large volumes of feed liquid without requiring changeovers or additional equipment. This scalability is crucial in industrial applications where high throughput and efficiency are essential.

Requires No Changeover

Unlike other distillation methods that may require multiple stages or equipment changes, wiped film distillation can achieve desired separations in a single pass through the evaporator. This streamlined process reduces downtime and increases overall productivity.

Reduces Costs

In addition to its operational advantages, wiped film distillation also offers significant cost savings compared to traditional techniques:

  • Lower energy consumption: The rapid heat transfer rates result in reduced energy requirements for heating and cooling systems.
  • Fewer maintenance needs: The continuous cleaning action by wipers minimizes fouling on heated surfaces, reducing maintenance expenses associated with cleaning and replacement parts.

Wiped film distillation is a great way to produce high-quality natural medicines with minimal effort and cost.

Dual-Staged Wiped Film Evaporation by Industry Experts

The clearSTILL 400 Wiped Film Evaporator is a cutting-edge machine designed to revolutionize your extraction process. It can be completely automated with a CO2 extraction system which, when combined, is fully contained throughout the entire extraction to distillation process. By incorporating the clearSTILL 400 into your operation, you will experience cost savings, increased efficiency, and superior product quality. Contact us today to learn more about this state-of-the-art machine and take your natural medicine production to new heights.

Get in touch with our team to request a quote, learn more about our training or get help with your business plan.

We are dedicated to providing you with the best advice, quality and service in the industry.

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