Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Núñez G.A. and del Valle J.M. (2014)

Supercritical CO2 oilseed extraction in multi-vessel plants. 2. Effect of number and geometry of extractors on production cost

Revista : Journal of Supercritical Fluids
Volumen : 92
Páginas : 324-334
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


The objective of this work was to study production costs for the supercritical CO2 extraction of a pre-pressed oilseed (packed bed with 2-mm particles) in a 2-m3 industrial multi-vessel plant operating at 40 °C and 30 MPa, using a fully predictive mass transfer model to simulate the process. We modified the inner diameter (47.3 ≤ D ≤ 65.6 cm) and number (n = 2, 3, or 4) of extraction vessels, and the mass flow rate of CO2 (Q = 3000 or 6000 kg/h), thus changing the aspect ratio of the extraction vessels (3 ≤ L/D ≤ 8), and superficial velocity (2.71 ≤ U ≤ 10.8 mm/s) and specific mass flow rate (6 ≤ q ≤ 24 kg/h per kg substrate) of CO2. Production cost decreased when increasing the mass flow rate of CO2 or the number of extraction vessels (or when increasing q). Production cost did not depend on the geometry of extraction vessel for a constant specific mass flow rate of CO2, but it decreased with a decreasing of the L/D ratio of the vessel for a constant superficial velocity of CO2. For any given plant, the contribution of fixed cost items (capital, labor) to the production cost increased with extraction time, unlike that of variable cost items (substrate, CO2, energy), which decreased. Thus, there was an optimal extraction time that minimized production cost for each plant. This work proposes an expression for capital cost of an industrial multi-vessel plant as a function of the mass flow rate of CO2 (which defines the cost of the solvent cycle of the plant), and the volume of the extraction vessels (which together with number of extraction vessels define the cost of extraction section of the plant), with a scaling factor of 0.48 for both items. Under optimal conditions, capital cost represented 30-40% of the production cost, but uncertainties in capital cost estimates (about ±50% using the proposed expression) may largely affect these estimates. The lowest production cost estimated in this work was USD 7.8/kg oil for the extraction of prepressed oilseed in a four-vessel plant using 6000 kg/h of CO2. The mass flow rate of CO2 and number of extraction vessels also affected annual productivity that was about 360 ton oil for the same plant operating 7200 h per year. Oil yields were above 90% for both three- and four-vessel plants.