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Thin Film Evaporators and Short Path Distillators

How they work Applications Customer specific trial distillations

UIC GmbH Custom Vacuum Distillation Plants

turnkey distillation plants capacity range: 100 grams to over 10 tons per hour from UIC: a leading international supplier Vacuum distillation plants Vacuum distillation plants are used in R&D labs, in pilot applications, and for full-scale industrial mass production. Each plant can be congured to run around the clock, at feed rates ranging from ca. 0.1 kg/h to more than 10 t/h. In addition to the main components the Thin Film Evaporators and the Short Path Distillators all secondary devices are integrated to guarantee smooth and reliable operation. Test distillations The UIC Technology Center carries out test distillations with sample materials from our customers to provide reliable data on separation efciencies, yields, and capacities relatively quickly and with a minimum of effort. These parameters form an important part of the customers investment decision.

UIC: leading international supplier Specialized in the engineering and delivery of turnkey plants, UIC designs each solution to meet specic customer requirements. Today, we are a leading supplier of vacuum distillation plants around the world.

Applications While vacuum distillation plants cover large areas of the process industry, common requirements of all applications are particularly gentle process conditions. The thermal load of heat-sensitive substances is minimized to avoid any deterioration of quality.

An overview of applications:

Stearic acid
Vapor pressure (mm Hg)

Food additives Oils and fats Flavors and fragrances Fine chemicals Pharmaceutical products Separation of monomers and polymers Mineral oil products

Glycerine monostearat Glycerine distearate Glycerine tristearate

10 1 0,1 0,01 0,001 0






Temperature C
Vapor pressure curve

How Thin Film Evaporators and Short Path Distillators Work

thermal separation technology gentle distillation under vacuum

In the process industry, substances are usually not available as pure materials, but as mixtures. There are many reasons why substances or groups of substances are separated from mixtures: to improve quality to optimize the subsequent process steps to reduce hazards (toxicity, environmental pollution, or inammable components, etc.)

of substances often distilled in a typical Thin Film and Short Path Distillation application. It is evident that the vapor pressure for the four illustrated pure components differs in each case by about 1 to 2 decades at constant temperature. The thermal separation by means of distillation is a composition of partial evaporation of a liquid mixture of substances and a partial or total condensation of the resulting vapors. In order to achieve economically interesting evaporation rates, an evaporation temperature very close to the boiling temperature is aimed for. The boiling temperature is reached when the vapor pressure is equal to the ambient pressure. High evaporation temperatures may have an extremely negative inuence on the quality of the substances to be separated by means of distillation, e. g. due to thermal decomposition, disequilibrium of monomer / oligomer mixtures, polymerization, etc. The amount of such undesirable chemical reactions increases both with the temperature and with the time of exposure to thermal load.

The technologies to separate such mixtures make use of various chemical or physical properties of the substances, e. g. the solubility (solvent extraction, supercritical extraction), the density (decantation) or the melting point (crystallization). Distillation is a thermal separation technology and based on in simple terms the difference of the vapor pressures that individual components of the mixture have at the same temperature. Vapor pressure is the pressure achieved at a certain temperature in the state of equilibrium above the liquid phase of a pure substance. A Pascal (Pa) is the ofcial measuring unit of pressure and also of vapor pressure. One Pa = 1 N/m (Newton per square meter). The measuring unit bar or mbar (millibar) is also applied in vacuum technology, using the following conversion formula:
100 Pa (Pascal) = 1 hPa (Hektopascal) = 1 mbar

Gentle Distillation Many organic substances such as vitamins, avors, fragrances, pharmaceuticals, and similar substances reach their thermal load limit at low temperatures. Due to the required high temperatures, a distillation at normal pressure (approx. 1000 mbar) would therefore result in a loss of quality. It is, however, possible to considerably reduce the boiling temperatures by lowering the pressure. This means carrying out distillation under vacuum. By nding a suitable operation pressure under vacuum, reducing the boiling temperature compared to the atmospheric distillation by 200C and more is possible. The design of an appropriate distillation device must consider that the vapor volume will increase reciprocally in proportion to the decreasing pressure. A reduction of the pressure from 1000 mbar to 1 mbar results in a 1000-fold increase in volume.

Even older is the Torr measuring unit (also called mm Hg). One Torr corresponds to the pressure of a mercury column of 1 mm height. (1 Torr = 1.3332 hPa = 1.3332 mbar) Vapor pressures rise or fall exponentially to the temperature. At a constant temperature, substances with a higher molecular weight often have a lower vapor pressure. The diagram shown at the left side displays, in a semilogarithmic scale, the above mentioned dependency



Thin Film Evaporator

operating pressure range: 1 1000 mbar short residence time external condensation The operating pressure for Thin Film Evaporators is mostly between 1 mbar and atmospheric pressure (1000 mbar), enabling a signicant reduction in evaporation temperatures compared to atmospheric evaporation. The residence time of the feed material at evaporation temperature is very short in most cases less than one minute. The combination of low evaporation temperature and short residence time results in a gentle distillation process with a low thermal load for the materials to be distilled. Basic principles and Thin Film Evaporator design The evaporation of the light volatile components of a mixture of substances is done from a thin liquid lm (usually less than 1 mm thick). The mixture is fed from above onto the surface of a cylindrical evap-orator via a rotating distribution system, and then ows downward on the internal evaporator wall as a thin lm. A mechanical wiper system, connected to the distribution system, uniformly distributes the mixture onto the evaporator surface area and permanently agitates the downward owing material. The cylindrical evaporator is jacketed to facilitate consistent heating of the evaporator surface area through a heat carrier medium (e. g. thermal oil or steam). Depending on the temperature of the liquid and the operating pressure inside the evaporator, the volatile substances are evaporated from the downward owing liquid material lm. In a reverse ow to the liquid lm, the vapors led upward and exhaust through a nozzle. Particularly when using a Thin Film Evaporator for low operation pressures, the above-mentioned increase in vapor volume must be considered when designing the apparatus. Cross sections as large as possible minimize the ow resistance, enabling low operating pressures. Often, (partial and / or total) condensers or rectication columns are installed downstream from the Thin Film Evaporator. In the latter case, the Thin Film Evaporator works as a reboiler.
feed nozzle

motor with gearbox


vapor nozzle

heating jacket

roller wiper


The UIC Roller Wiper System

optimal mixing of the film self cleaning low wear and tear The uniform distribution of the lm material on the evaporator surface and the constant mixing of this lm are of great importance for the efciency of a Thin Film Evaporator. The UIC wiper system Improves heat transfer from the evaporator wall to the lm material Brings the molecules of the light boiling substances to the lm surface, where they evaporate more easily Avoids non wiped areas that can thermally damage sensitive substances due to local overheating Avoids direct contact between wiper elements and evaporator wall to avoid mechanical damages (e. g. scratches) Has low wear and tear and long operating times without replacing the wiper elements Contains only dynamic wiper elements (rollers) that rotate permanently and do not stick to one spot Guarantees short residence times and a sharp residence spectrum Minimizes the ow resistance of the vapors due to its open construction wave forms in front of each roller, agitating and mixing the material due to turbulence forces. Depending on the evaporator temperature and the mixture of materials, the rollers are, for example, made of pure PTFE, glass-ber reinforced PTFE, graphite, or PEEK. The UIC roller wiper system has proven to be the superior solution and is in use in over 1,000 distillation plants built during the past 40 years.

The UIC wiper system consists of rollers aligned in segments, one on top of the other, beaded on guiding rods. The guiding rods are mechanically connected to each other and to the rotating distribution plate to form a wiper basket (see photo on the right). When the wiper basket rotates, the rollers are pressed into the downward owing liquid lm by centrifugal force and also rotate around their own axis. A bow

Installation of a wiper basket with wiper rollers into an RF 4500 Thin Film Evaporator (evaporation surface area: 45 m)

Wiper rollers

Short Path Distillators

operating pressures from 0.001 mbar short residence times internal condensation Operating pressures below 1 mbar can hardly be achieved in Thin Film Evaporators, as a certain pressure difference is required to transport the vapors from the evaporator to the external condenser. For a number of distillation tasks, however, thermal damage to the material to be distilled can only be avoided with lower operating pressures and thus lower evaporation temperatures. For such tasks, a Short Path Distillator is the best choice. Providing the same advantages as a Thin Film Evaporator, Short Path Distillators allow operation pressures down to 0.001 mbar. The pressure difference between evaporator and condenser must be minimized to use this range of operating pressures. This can be done by installing the condenser in the center of the evaporator. The vapors escaping from the liquid lm ow only a short path (a few centi-meters/inches) before they hit the cold surface of the internal condenser, where they condense. The required pressure difference for the transportation of the vapors at this short distance is very low. Of course, UIC Short Path Distillators are equipped with our roller wiper system.
heating jacket feed nozzle

motor with gearbox


internal condenser

roller wiper

vacuum nozzle residue nozzle

Internal condenser

distillate nozzle

The UIC Delivery Program

capacities from 0.1 kg/h to over 10 tons/h turnkey plants for industrial production and laboratories Both Thin Film Evaporators and Short Path Distillators are available in a variety of standard sizes with evaporation surface areas between 0.01 to 50 m and capacities ranging from ca. 0.1 kg/h to more than 10 tons/h.

Construction materials are borosilicate glass (for laboratory plants) and stainless steels or highly corrosion resistant alloys (for pilot and industrial plants). One of the outstanding features of all UIC plants is that each one is designed and built in accordance with the specic requirements of each and every task. This applies also to the secondary components, which are required for a perfect operation of the Thin Film Evaporators and Short Path Distillators. Separate brochures are available for more information about the turnkey plants from UIC.

Distillation plant with Thin Film Evaporator (22 m) and Short Path Distillator (15 m)

Short Path Distillator KD 300

KDL 5 laboratory plant

Thin Film Evaporator Condenser alignment: Typical operation pressures: Applications: External 1 - 1000 mbar Mainly as pre-stage upstream from Short Path Distillators, e. g. separation of large amounts of solvents

Short Path Distillator Internal 0.001 - 1 mbar For the thermal separation of mixtures of materials that can only be exposed to very low thermal loads

The UIC Thin Film Evaporators and Short Path Distillators are used for the following tasks: Concentration and depletion Removal of solvents Color improvement Separation of reaction side products Separation of excess educts Separation of monomers, dimers, trimers, oligomers

Thin Film and Short Path Distillation are ideal for: Separation of mixtures of materials that contain at least one valuable product, with a minimal thermal load to avoid decomposition, deterioration of color, etc. Separation of materials with high boiling points Avoidance of high temperatures that would disturb the reaction balance between individual components in an undesirable way during distillation Thin Film and Short Path Distillation plants are also successfully used for the following applications: Food additives / oils and fats Fish oil ethyl ester Fish oils Monoglycerides Tocopherol - concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA) - separation of pesticides - physical de-acidication - concentrations up to >95 % - separation of natural tocopherols from deodorizer condensate - concentration of synthetic tocopherols - color improvement - separation from palm oil - separation from palm oil - gentle de-acidication without damnication of tocotrienol and carotene contents - separation of water - concentration - color improvement - separation from vegetable oils - separation of solvents - increase of the color bodies

Carotene Tocotrienol Palm oil Lactic acid

Free fatty acids Oleoresine

Pharmaceutical products Pharmaceutical intermediate and nal products - separation of solvents - separation of reactive by-products - color improvement

Flavors & Fragrances Nootkaton Sinesal, Valencen Patchouli oil / vetiver oil Wool waxes, wool alcohols Pepper, ginger, jasmine oils - fractionation from grapefruit oil - fractionation from orange oil - concentration - color improvement - separation of pesticides - color improvement - color improvement - concentration

Fine chemicals Synthetic vitamins - separation of reaction side products - color improvement - concentration - separation of light volatiles - fractionation - color improvement - fractionation - color improvement - separation of solvents - concentration

Silicone oils Fischer-Tropsch waxes PE waxes Natural waxes UV stabilizers for varnishes

Monomer / polymer separations Dimer fatty acids Epoxy resins Polyurethane prepolymers - separation of monomers, trimers, and oligomers - separation of solvents - concentration of monomers - separation of solvents - separation of monomers (e. g. MDI, TDI, HDI) Mineral oil products Vacuum residues - characterization in laboratories (fractionation) - cuts up to 700C AET - yield improvement - recycling - color improvement - fractionation - color improvement

Used oil Waxes

Customer Specic Trial Distillations

feasibility studies up-scaling product samples Experimental research is recommended when information required for a good decision is unavailable or only partially available. In many Thin Film and Short Path Distillation projects the data for the components of the mixture of substances to be separated are unknown and calculations of the expected distillation results lead only to rough estimates. We therefore offer comprehensive test distillation capabilities at the UIC Technology Center to interested companies and persons with their own sample materials.

Monitoring a trial run

Why do test distillations? To clarify if a given separation task with regard to its separation efciency, yield, thermal load, etc. - can be solved by Thin Film or Short Path Distillation (feasibility studies) Provide parameters required for the design of large industrial plants (up-scaling) Identify performance limitations to determine process guarantees Produce product samples, e. g. for chemical analysis, physical tests or
Modular distillation plant

forwarding sample materials to customers

The UIC Technology Center The UIC Technology Center distills sample quantities from 0.1 kg to 1000 kg. The following plants are available to perform test distillations: Type of plant Laboratory Plants KDL 1 KDL 5 Pilot Plants KD 6 Multi-stage plant x x Degasser Falling Film Evaporator Rectification Column Thin Film Evaporator Short Path Distillator x x x x Typical sample quantities 0.5 kg 3.0 - 5.0 kg 50 - 100 kg 200 - 500 kg

x x x

x x x


laboratory & pilot plants experienced distillation specialists Detailed information about our laboratory and pilot plants is available in a separate brochure. Experienced distillation specialists supervise the plants and optimize the distillation parameters. Each and every part of the distillation plants is thoroughly cleaned after each distillation run to make sure no carry-over from one sample material to another occurs. When working under GMP conditions, an intermediate distillation run with a solvent is performed after the cleaning of the plant. This procedure is done as long as the material distilled previously can no longer be analytically traced in the solvent. Prior to starting any trial distillation, a careful brieng is done with the customer. Our specialists benet from the experience of over 4,000 trial series runs made during the past years. Both the KDL 5 laboratory plant and the pilot plants in our Technology Center run under a PLC control system. The operation parameters are represented in tables and as curves and are part of the test report given to the customer. Because they know the products and the analytical methods best suited for the material examination, the analytical examinations of distillate and residue samples obtained in the UIC Technology Center are usually done by the customers specialists. The analysis results and the operation parameters of the test plants are the basis for the up-scaling, i. e. the dimensioning of large plants for industrial production. To prepare the trial distillations and ensure the safety of our staff and equipment, customers provide the following information prior to carrying out trial runs at the UIC Technology Center: Detailed description of the distillation (a questionnaire is available from our website) A material safety data sheet Special instructions regarding storage and transportation, in particular for hazardous goods

Technology Center specialists carry out customer trial distillations


UIC GmbH Products & Services

As a technology partner, we supply distillation solutions to our customers for the thermal separation of heat sensitive substances. UIC Thin Film and Short Path Distillation solutions operate under vacuum at pressures down to 0.001 mbar.

We offer Feasibility studies Distillation trials for laboratory and pilot plants performed at the UIC Technology Center Basic and detailed engineering Delivery of turnkey plants for R&D, pilot, and industrial applications Plant start-up, commissioning, and process optimization Leak detection, maintenance, and repair Spare parts service Consulting and support through our worldwide network

Ask for our other brochures UIC GmbH The Specialist in Vacuum Distillation Plants Laboratory and Pilot Plants Distillation Plants for Industrial Production


UIC GmbH info Am Neuen Berg 4 Am Neuen Telefon: +4946023 Phone: 950 0 +49E-Mail: info @ Berg 6023 950 0@ Alzenau 6023 950 250 D-63755 Alzenau D-63755 Telefax: +49 6023 Fax: 950