Wiped Film Evaporator and Thin Film Evaporators

The clearSTILL dual-stage wiped film evaporator doubles throughput and labor efficiency over any single stage equipment using continuous, two-pass distillation technology in a single contained processing cycle. Used for heat sensitive or highly viscous fluids, engineered wipers create a thin film on the evaporator surface that enables thin film evaporation and short path condensation.

wiped film distillation machine

Dual Stage High Throughput System

Most traditional wiped film evaporators require each distillation pass to be performed in a single, separate cycle. Not only does this create a bottleneck in the production process, it also leaves the risks of contamination and product waste between transfers in your lab. For any serious distillate producer, this should not be an acceptable standard.

With two separate thin film evaporator stills capable of a clean, continuous process and a throughput rate of 4-6 L per hour recovery, the clearSTILL is capable of eliminating waste and contamination, doubling output and halving labor costs compared to standard single stage systems.

 

wiped film column cross-section

Wiped Film Evaporator Working Principle

The clearSTILL, unlike most wiped film evaporators, has an impressive 4-6 Liter/Hour capacity – double the processing capability of standard single-pass, short path distillation systems found in a standard distillation lab. This level of technology in production efficiency can effectively halve labor costs all while creating a streamlined distillation recovery process.

The process applications of molecular distillation technologies is aided strongly by a vacuum system that conditions the vacuum space in the short path evaporator systems.  

 

Thin Film Distillation Service Publications

Growing Trends in Cannabis Distillation
Annotated Glossary of Distillation Terminology
Guide for Distillation Clarity

Double Your Throughput Units and Labor Efficiency

clearSTILL’s advanced distillation technology can effectively double your output and halve labor costs. It’s time to complete the upgrade of your distillation equipment.

wiped film distillation equipment

Wiped Film Data Integrity and Process Control Construction

Unlike standard distillation equipment systems, the clearSTILL is complete and built with total process control in mind. User authentication and programmable methods allow for a full-coverage of the distillation process. This includes tracking of yields, optional WiFi enabled monitoring and short control, data visualization, and hardware control.

Thin Film Evaporator

This level of process overview gives the clearSTILL capability of lot, calibration and maintenance tracking, and barcode reporting both electronically and through a paper trail. These capabilities are essential for advanced distillation technology that is compliant with current GMP requirements.

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clearSTILL Wiped Film Design and Specifications

Dimensions: L 103″ x W 44″ x H 72″

Diameter: 6″

Roughing Vacuum Pumps: 2

Feed Pumps: 1

Heating Jacket: All tubes, pumps

Type: Oil-Free

Condensate Pumps: 2

Power (kW): 9

Turbo Vacuum Pumps: 2

Retentate Pumps: 2

Heating Range: 38 – 260° C

Diffusion Pump: Optional

Feed Rate: 3.2 L/hr

Wiped Film Pressure (torr): 0.1

Number of Condensers: 2

Distillation Vessels: 2

Short Path Pressure (torr): 0.001

Condenser Surface Area (cm2): 606

Cold Finger: Yes, Inline

Cooling Range: -15 – -1° C

Cooling Capacity: (1) 0.45kW at -35oC, (2) 0.5kW at 30oC

Cold Finger Surface Area (cm2): 577

Chiller Fluid: 35/65 glycol/water

Collection Vessel Volume: 7L

falling_film_wiped_film_connection
wiped film distillation machine

Wiped Film Evaporators Cost, Features and Advantages

  • Continuous operation eliminates contamination & reduces maintenance costs
  • Continuous integration flow with fracTron
  • Dual still system allows for continuous passes
  • No maintenance roughing pump eliminates need to tear down frequently
  • High throughput increases overall production value
  • Data logging for mass flow, vacuum allows method troubleshooting
  • Manual bypass for turbo
  • Dual turbo gives flexibility

Short Path Distillation vs. Wiped Film Distillation

wiped film distillation product

Evaporator

Vacuum Level Requirement Degassing

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

Vacuum Level Requirement Distillation

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

Double Your Throughput and Labor Efficiency with Wiped Film Evaporators

clearSTILL’s advanced distillation technology can effectively double your output and halve labor costs. It’s time to upgrade your distillation equipment.

falling_film_wiped_film_connection

Difference Between Wiped Film Evaporation, Thin Film Evaporation, and Short path Distillation

Wiped film evaporation (wfe)is a form of thin film evaporator that creates a “thin film” of liquid along the evaporative surface using rotor driven spinning wiper blades and is typically used with highly viscous mixtures. There are other form of thin film evaporators other than a wfe designed to separate cannabis compounds.

Falling film typically addresses thin film evaporators that can produce a free flowing film without any rotor, wiper blades, or other mechanical assistance. This generally applies to fluids with viscosities with 2 units cP or less.

Short path distillation utilizes a round bottom flask, heating mantle, and glass condenser situated on top of the round bottom.

Learn More About clearSTILL Evaporators Process

Download the product brochure to check detailed specifications and important information about the equipment and its technology.

Testimonials

Technicians were super supportive and provided valuable tips. Equipment works great!
Kwame

Easy to use equipment, knowledgeable and available staff and support, constantly working to improve and upgrade.
Devien

Your support tech was terrific. He knew the instrument in-and-out, was incredibly knowledgeable about extraction chemistry, and worked tirelessly to give us terrific service. He gave us every insider trick that he had learned in running the instrument for years. I can’t wait to have him back out to my laboratory. Truly exceptional worker! Couldn’t say more positive things!
Vinnie

Your sales team member was a great host and gave an informative tour. It’s pretty amazing work being done out there, and our group left impressed.
Joe

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to decarboxylate before distillation?

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

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

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

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.

How do I clean the distillation equipment?

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

Why do vacuum pumps require maintenance?

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.

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

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

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. Many machines require cleaning the condenser between batches or lots. This requires that the condenser be cleaned between batches. An automated cleaner sprays a cleaning solvent over the condenser, cleaning it. The finger is heat flashed to dry.

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

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

  • 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.
  • 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.

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

What is entrainment and how do I prevent it?

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

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

  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.

Input requires decarboxylated oil.

  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 does WFE do?

  • 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.
  • Degasses winterized oil.
  • Makes distillate from degassed winterized oils.
  • Removes color, terpenes, flavor, and other impurities.
  • Makes oil consistent so that it can be used in a product for consistent results.
  • Upgrades potency of target distillate.

What is the advantage of a dual still?

  • Continuous degassing and distillation in a continuous two step operation that will yield a first pass distillate.
  • If operating with only distillation parameters, increased distillation production and better control of the distillate product with no handling required in between operations.

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.

Meet Our CEO and Founder in Service Dr. Jon Thompson, Ph.D

jon thompson

Dr. Thompson is a separations scientist, entrepreneur, and inventor. As a scientist, he has a strong technical background and industry experience in analytical instrumentation, in-vitro diagnostics, biotech, mining, and homeland security markets. During his cannabis industry career, Dr. Thompson has earned a strong track record of winning and implementing medical cannabis licenses in well-regulated, medically-modeled states. Dr. Thompson has assisted numerous companies to attain their goals in cannabis and hemp manufacturing, as well as market development, strategic marketing, and worldwide business-to-business alliance formation (including international markets).

  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry, Master of Science degree in Chemistry and a Doctor of Chemistry degree–all from the University of Minnesota.