clearSTILL Wiped Film Evaporator
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Specs Video FAQ Features

clearSTILL is a two-stage wiped film distillation machine that performs two independent distillation passes in a single contained cycle. The result is golden clear distillate with high potency for use in any product category. It supports throughput capacity of 4-6L per hour while doubling throughput and labor efficiency over single-pass machines. clearSTILL provides the best solution for opening the production bottleneck created by conventional wiped film distillation machines while lowering labor costs.

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

 

GMP Documentation Package (optional)

  • Materials certs

  • Calibration certs

  • SOPS including operation, cleaning, calibration

  • URS 

  • FAT and SAT Protocols and Testing

Check Certifications and Standards

Training

  • Included in purchase price

  • On-site 16 hrs including installation 

  • Optional training at demo location

  • Training documentation/curriculum (online) for yearly training or new trainees

  • Additional on site training available 

Applications

  • Solvent recycling and recovery

  • Petroleum distillation, biodiesel distillation, crude oil distillation

  • Solvent purification

  • Botanical oil distillation

  • Essential oil distillation

Advantages

  • Continuous operation between stills eliminates contamination

  • Dual still allows continuous passes

  • No maintenance roughing pump eliminates need to tear down frequently

  • Finger cleaner eliminates need to disassemble between lots

  • Controlled methods allows data, run, method integrity required by GMP operation

  • Data logging for mass flow, vacuum allows method troubleshooting

  • Manual bypass for turbo

  • Dual turbo gives flexibility

 

Wiped Film Evaporator Video - How It Works



Frequently Asked Questions

What does a wiped film evaporator (wfe) do?

  1. Also known as molecular distillation, the system is similar to short path distillation equipment in the sense that there is a short distance between the evaporator and condenser. Depending on the operating conditions, wiped film evaporators can degas winterized oil or distill degassed winterized oil. The distillation column is comprised of a permeable vertical cylinder and a rotating wiper blade that wipes a thin film of winterized oil over the evaporative surface.  The condenser is typically only 1-2 inches away from the evaporator so that when the volatile components begin to evaporate into the headspace, they migrate towards the chilled surface of the condenser and condense to a liquid, distillate product.

  2. Degasses winterized oil.

  3. Makes distillate from degassed winterized oils.

  4. Removes color, terpenes, flavor, and other impurities.

  5. Makes oil consistent so that it can be used in a product for consistent results.

  6. Upgrades potency of target distillate.

How does wiped film evaporation fit in my workflow?

  1. Input for requires winterized crude oil.

  2. Input requires decarboxylated oil.

  3. First wiped film evaporation stage: degassing 

    1. Degassing involves removal of volatiles and gas with heat while stirring. Typical ethanol removal is 80-90% using a rotovap or falling film evaporator, degassing using a wiped film evaporator achieves >98% ethanol removal which is required for wiped film evaporation.

    2. Degassing can be done with a stirred tank reactor, but the disadvantage of degassing with a stirred tank reactor is degradation of active targets such as CBD or CBG and breakdown of the oil. This method is also commonly a batch, compared to the continuous operation of a wiped film evaporator. - Aaron

  4. Second wiped film evaporation stage: distillation

    1. Degassed, winterized oil is wiped onto the heated exterior surfaces of the wiped film evaporator column where the more volatile cannabinoids vaporize into the headspace. The internal condenser condenses the cannabinoid vapors to produce the distillate product. The pressure of the system is GREATLY reduced to decrease the boiling point of the target cannabinoid products. Lower boiling points prevent product degradation and decrease heat load requirements. 

    2. If you choose to degas with a stirred tank reactor, both stages of the clearSTILL wiped film evaporator can be set to distillation operating conditions to achieve a high purity distillate. - Aaron

  5. Output distillate often feeds either chromatography or crystallization processes.

What extraction method will give the cleanest distillate?

  1. Specially denatured ethanol is typically used for ethanol extraction due to the high cost of pure 200 proof ethanol.

  2. Denaturants are comprised of a wide variety of toxic and non food grade chemicals.  Those denaturants are always detectable in the final distillate.

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

  1. L 103" x W 44" x H 72", 80 FLA at 230VAC, 50/60 hz, 3 phase

  2. Heat load of equipment is estimated at 3000 W-hr

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

  1. 0.6 m^2.  Smaller the number, the slower the throughput.  As the amount of temperature controlled surface area decreases, the unit functions at a lower throughput and efficiency, and with higher impurities. This stems from having increased control over highly viscous liquids and vapors at their saturation temperatures and pressures. 

  2. Having evenly heated evaporative and condensing surfaces maximizes throughput and minimizes impurities by gently evaporating volatile components from a highly viscous mixture. The surface area for heat transfer is fully utilized by the use of wipers to evenly distribute the mixture on the heated surfaces. Controlling the wiping speed and feed inlet flow allows for precise control over residence time of evaporation and chemical potential between the evaporative and condensing surfaces.

What is entrainment and how do I prevent it?

  1. Entrainment comes from inadequate degassing. Highly volatile components (gasses, residual solvents, etc.) aggressively vaporize on the heated surface, causing liquids to contaminate the headspace and the condenser. Thus, oil components that have not been evaporated contaminate the distilled oil.

  2. Special entrainment separator wiper design is required to eliminate entrainment. 

What yield should we expect from the wiped film evaporator? What is the potency of the distillate?

  1. Yield and potency are highly dependent on the aggressiveness of the operating conditions. For example:

    1. The boiling point of ethanol is 78oC.  If the evaporator temperature is set at 100oC above the boiling point, it is expected that most of the ethanol will evaporate and condense and the ethanol yield will be high. However, the exceedingly high temperature can cause other components to also vaporize, decreasing the potency of the distillate product. 

    2. If the temperature is set at the boiling point of ethanol, it is likely that some of the ethanol will evaporate, but not all.  Thus, the yield of ethanol will be comparatively much lower than in the aforementioned case, but the distillate product will have fewer impurities. 

  2. The clearSTILL has been engineered to achieve a throughput of 4-6L/hr and increase the potency from 50-65% in winterized oil to 65-90% in the distillate depending on the standard operating procedure

How do I remove colors from winterized extracts?

  1. Depending on the operating conditions, wiped film distillation systems won’t vaporize color-causing impurities in the winterized oil.

  2. Typical results vary and depends on differential temperature between the wall and the cold finger, and pressure.

Does the system come with methods?

  1. Methods comprising temperatures, pressures, flow rates, and alarm settings are provided.  

  2. Methods must be adjusted for desired distillation rate, color and potency.

What vacuum level is required?

  1. For degassing, it is recommended that the wiped film evaporator operates at < 1 torr, this can be achieved with the scroll vacuum pump that comes with the system.

  2. For distillation, it is recommended to use a turbo vacuum pump as well as a scroll pump to reduce the temperature required to vaporize the cannabinoids. Turbo pumps can achieve a vacuum level of <0.001torr.

Does the location of the vacuum sensor matter?

  1. The measured vacuum level will change depending on where you measure the vacuum. If you measure inside the wiped film column, you will measure a much greater pressure due to the volatile components in the vacuum. As those volatile components diffuse through the vacuum system, they encounter a series of condensers which act to condense those vapors. Vacuum sensors on the downstream side of the condenser often measure much lower vacuum. 

  2. Various manufacturers place vacuum sensors in different locations and successfully produce distillate.

What is the difference between wiped film evaporation, falling film evaporation, and short path distillation and spinning band 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.

What is a finger cleaner and how do you automate cleaning of the finger?

  1. The “finger” of a wiped film evaporator is the condenser and must be cleaned due to cross contamination of the condenser from lot to lot.  

  2. Many machines require cleaning the condenser between batches or lots.

  3. This requires that the condenser be cleaned between batches.

  4. An automated cleaner sprays a cleaning solvent over the condenser, cleaning it

  5. The finger is heat flashed to dry. 

Why do vacuum pumps require maintenance?

  1. Vacuum pumps typically use an oil ring to produce a seal that creates vacuum. Volatiles in the winterized oil that don’t condense during degassing can follow the vapor flow path all the way to the vacuum pump, contaminating the pump lubricating oil, compromising its performance. 

  2. The clearSTILL vacuum pumps don’t require oil for operation, eliminating that maintenance. 

How do I clean the distillation equipment?

Using canola oil, the system is cleaned according to a predefined cleaning protocol.

What is the advantage of a dual still?

  1. Continuous degassing and distillation in a continuous two step operation that will yield a first pass distillate.

  2. If operating with only distillation parameters, increased distillation production and better control of the distillate product with no handling required in between operations. 

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

  1. All winterized and decarboxylated extracts can be used in the wiped film evaporator.

  2. The system is general and may be used to obtain a bulk distillate.  The system is specially designed to handle viscous matrices.

Can I feed winterized oil directly into the thin film evaporator?

  1. Yes, if the oil has not been degassed, the wiped film evaporator must be set to the degassing operating parameters on the first pass. The second pass should always be used at distillation operating conditions.

  2. The oil must first be decarboxylated.

Does distillation replace chromatography?

  1. Chromatography and distillation are not analogous. Chromatography utilizes differences in chemical affinity to separate a mixture of components, distillation utilizes differences in boiling points. 

  2. Wiped film distillation does not separate THC and CBD despite their differences in boiling points. 

  3. Chromatography will separate THC and CBD into their pure fractions.

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

No. The boiling points of THC and CBD are too close to selectively vaporize CBD or THC from a mixture.

Can I use the equipment for hemp and cannabis?

  1. Yes. The equipment will work to distill cbd oils, cbg oil, and other cannabinoids as required.

Do I need to decarboxylate before distillation?

  1. It is recommended. If you don’t decarboxylate before subjecting to wiped film evaporation, bubbles will form in the wiped film as CO2 is lost.  Bubbles produce impurities in distillate and cause entrainment.

Can I use the distillation equipment on hemp and marijuana extracts?

  1. Yes.  Distillation of hemp or marijuana extracts follow the same basic procedure. The process involves first degassing and removal of any terpenes with low boiling points such as ethanol and mono terpenes.  In step two of the process, compounds that are not volatile such as chlorophyll, lipids, salts, heavy metals are separated from CBD, CBG or THC. 

  2. In our experience, whole hemp plants including stems and stocks that are  ground and extracted often carry with them extractants that can co-distill with the cannabinoids.  These co-distilled extractants often interfere with crystallization downstream, making it impossible to obtain 99% pure isolate.

What other equipment does Extraktlab produce?

  1. Quality and manufacturing management software, 

  2. flower and stem separation technology known as a bucking machine,, 

  3. Supercritical C02 extractors and extraction methods, 

  4. Winterization and dewaxing equipment, 

  5. Ethanol solvent distillation and solvent removal equipment, 

  6. Decolorization particles

  7. Consulting services focused on OQ/IQ, facilities requirements, equipment layout, and GMP training.

What is the difference between hemp and cannabis extracts and distillate?

  1. Hemp extracts and distillate are derived from industrial hemp biomass which complies with the Federal law mandate of having less than 0.3 % w/w THC. 

  2. Hemp distillate often will have a high CBD content that will crystallize after distillation.  The distillate typically does not carry a strong terpene smell due to first pass terpene removal.  Before crystallization, the oil is crystal clear and light yellow. THC content of this hemp distillate is often much higher than 0.3% w/w and therefore needs to be diluted or futher processed to remove the THC. 

  3. Cannabis is also federally regulated but is only legal in states that have laws allowing its production. 

  4. Cannabis has a much higher THC content than hemp derived distillates.  THC distillate typically does not crystallize after distillation and may not contain any CBD. 

Does distillation remove pesticides?

  1. If the pesticide has a much high boiling point compared to the target molecule, then the pesticide will remain in the residue and not boiled over.  However, most pesticides are small molecules and will co-distill into the distillate if they are in the winterized input oil. 

From Our Blog

Features

The clearSTILL offers the following advantages:

  • Continuous 2-stage Distillation
  • 4-6 L/hour Capacity
  • Reduced labor and cleaning downtime
  • GMC Compliant

clearSTILL extended features:

PROCESSING POWER

  • Dual stills with continuous process flow
  • 2-stage distillation @ 4-6L/hour
  • Double the volume of single stage systmes
  • Half the labor of single-stage systems
  • Oil-free pumps eliminate oil changes and leaks
  • Integrated cold-finger cleaner

PROCESSING CONTROL

  • Containment between stages eliminates contamination risk
  • Programmable methods with user authentication
  • Complete hardware control
  • Mass flow tracking of yields
  • Data visualization and alarms
  • WIFI enabled monitoring and control

GMP COMPLIANCE

  • Lot, calibration and maintenance tracking
  • Barcode-enabled paper and electronic trail
  • Continuous containment between stages
  • Certified wetted materials
  • Easy clean-in-place capabilities
  • 21 CFR Part 11 compliant software

Specifications

ATTRIBUTE VALUE
General Specifications  
Dimensions L 103" x W 44" x H 72"
Shipping Weight 3500
Sound Pressure <60 db
Electrical Specifications  
Voltage 208-240 volt
Frequency 60 Hz
FLA 80 amps
Phase 3
Certifications UL 508A Listed
E-stop; Thermal Switches Standard
Fluidics  
Feed Pumps 1
Condensate Pumps 2
Retentate Pumps 2
Feed Rate up to 50 kg/hr
Control Interface  
Control Interface HMI panel
Network Connectivity Cat5e
Process Integration igwLAB compatible
Data Logging On screen
Mass Flow Monitors Ultrasonic, mass
Alarms Audio, Visual
Installation and Training  
Included training & install 2 days
Warranty  
Quality and Labor Parts & workmanship
Duration  3 years
Evaporators   
Distillation Vessels 2
Diameter 6"
Heating Jacket All tubes, pumps
Power (kW) 9
Heating Range 38 – 260° C
Surface Area (cm2) 1819
Vacuum System  
Wiped Film Pressure (torr)  0.1
Short Path Pressure (torr) 0.001
Roughing Vacuum Pumps 2
Type Oil-Free
Turbo Vacuum Pumps 2
Diffusion Pump Optional
Condensers  
Number of Condensers 2
Condenser Surface Area (cm2) 606
Cold Finger Yes, Inline
Cold Finger Surface Area (cm2) 577
Cooling Range -15 - -1° C
Chiller Fluid 35/65 glycol/water
Cooling Capacity (1) 0.45kW at -35oC, 
  (2) 0.5kW at 30oC
Feed Vessel  
Collection Vessel Volume 7L
Materials  
Metals SS316
Speciality Polymers Buna-N
  PTFE
  PEEK

clearSTILL Brochure

Brand:
extraktLAB
Rated:
4.5/5 based on 3 customer reviews
Manufacturer Part Number:
36524
Name:

clearSTILL

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