Journal of Oleo Science, vol.67, no.1, pp.21-28, 2018 (SCI-Expanded)
© 2018 by Japan Oil Chemists’ Society.Oleic acid is a commercially valuable compound and has many positive health effects. Determining optimum conditions in a physical separation process is an industrially significant point due to environmental and health related concerns. Molecular distillation avoids the use of chemicals and adverse effects of high temperature application. The objective of this study was to determine the molecular distillation conditions for oleic acid to increase its purity and distillation yield in a model fatty acid mixture. For this purpose, a short-path evaporator column was used. Evaporation temperature ranged from 110 to 190°C, while absolute pressure was from 0.05 to 5 mmHg. Results showed that elevating temperature generally increased distillation yield until a maximum evaporation temperature. Vacuum application also affected the yield at a given temperature, and amount of distillate increased at higher vacuums except the case applied at 190°C. A multi-objective optimization procedure was then used for maximizing both yield and oleic acid amounts in distillate simultaneously, and an optimum point of 177.36°C and 0.051 mmHg was determined for this purpose. Results also demonstrated that evaporation of oleic acid was also suppressed by a secondary dominant fatty acid of olive oil - palmitic acid, which tended to evaporate easier than oleic acid at lower evaporation temperatures, and increasing temperature achieved to transfer more oleic acid to distillate. At 110°C and 0.05 mmHg, oleic and palmitic acid concentrations in distillate were 63.67% and 24.32%, respectively. Outcomes of this study are expected to be useful for industrial process conditions.