Various forms of distillation are used in the food processing industry to separate and purify volatile food products from aqueous blends. A common type of distillation implemented for such applications is vacuum distillation. To learn more about the role of vacuum distillation in food processing, continue reading.
What Is Vacuum Distillation?
To understand the role of vacuum distillation in food processing, it is important to first understand what vacuum distillation is and how it works. Essentially, vacuum distillation is the process of separating a liquid compound based on differences in boiling points. It takes place under reduced pressure which decreases its boiling point and allows the process to take place at a lower temperature.
During the process, the pressure in the column above the solvent is lowered so that it is less than the vapor pressure of the compound. As a result, a vacuum is created which causes the elements of the compound that have a lower vapor pressure to evaporate, leaving behind a purified distillate. This process is ideal for purifying compounds quickly and efficiently and is beneficial for compounds that are not readily distilled at ambient pressures.
The Use of Vacuum Distillation in Food Processing
Vacuum distillation is widely used in the food processing industry for numerous different applications. Generally, fractional distillation is used as an initial means to separate liquid components. However, creating the extremely pure components necessary in the food processing industry through the implementation of only fractional distillation is generally highly challenging or virtually impossible. As such, successive distillations such as vacuum distillation are often implemented to achieve a higher degree of purity. Some of the most common uses of vacuum distillation in the food processing industry include:
- The creation of flavors
- The production of alcoholic beverages from raw materials such as fruits or grains
- Concentrating essential oils
- Deodorizing fats and oils
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