Liquid-Liquid Extraction Equipment and Chemical Separation Solutions

Koch Modular Process Systems, LLC. Extraction Technology Group specializes in the design and supply of liquid-liquid extraction equipment engineered to fulfill the chemical, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, biotech and flavor & fragrance industries’ increasingly challenging purification requirements. Our extractor design expertise includes SCHEIBEL® columns, KARR® columns, rotating disc contactor (RDC) columns, pulsed columns, packed (SMVP) columns and sieve tray columns.

At Koch Modular, we don’t just sell extraction equipment; we supply solutions to your difficult separation applications. Koch Modular also provides replacements parts, repair services and troubleshooting assistance for all types of extraction columns. A qualified technician or engineer can be provided on-site for both mechanical and process related support.

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Liquid-liquid extraction is a powerful separation technique that falls right behind distillation in the hierarchy of separation methods (see figure on the right).

Reasons to use liquid-liquid extraction:

  • Separation not feasible by distillation
  • Break azeotropes
  • Energy requirements of distillation are prohibitive
  • A complex distillation sequence is required
  • The material is heat sensitive
  • The material is non-volatile

The general rule: If a separation can be made economically by distillation, there is no reason to consider extraction. However, in situations where distillation is not feasible for reasons such as a complex process sequence, high investment or operating costs, heat sensitive materials, or low volatility, extraction is often the best technology to use.

Extraction frequently involves additional steps to recover and recycle the solvent. A typical extraction process is shown below. About 3% of the operating cost is in the extractor, with the remaining 97% in solvent recovery. Also, the majority of the capital cost is in the equipment downstream of the extraction column. Therefore, it is extremely important to consider the solvent recovery aspects early in the project since they play such an important role in overall process economics.

Koch Modular Process Systems demonstrate how one of its patented KARRⓇ Column Designs functions for liquid-liquid extraction.

Koch Modular has a variety of different extractors to choose from for various industrial applications. In this video, the KARRⓇ Column that is demonstrated if a form of agitated extraction. It has solid efficiency, turndown capability, uniform shear mixing, and is best suited for systems that emulsify.  At Koch Modular, we don’t just sell extraction equipment; we supply solutions to your difficult separation applications.

Liquid-Liquid Extraction Applications by Industry

  • Washing of acids/bases, polar compounds from organics
  • Recovery of acrylic acid
  • Recovery of carboxylic acids from biomass such as fermentation broths
  • Recovery of oil from algae broths
  • Recovery of active materials from fermentation broths
  • Purification of vitamin products
  • Recovery of phenol, DMF, DMAC
  • Recovery of acetic acid from dilute solutions
  • Recovery of caprolactam for nylon manufacture
  • Separation of catalyst from reaction products
  • Lube oil quality improvement
  • Separation of aromatics/aliphatics (BTX)
  • Separation of olefins/parafins
  • Separation of structural isomers
  • Decaffeination of coffee and tea
  • Separation of essential oils (flavors and fragrances)
  • Recovery of cobalt and nickel
  • Recovery of rare earth elements
  • Purification of phosphoric acid
  • Purification of uranium

Complete System Design

In addition to the extractor, an extremely important aspect of any extraction application is the design of the system to recover and recycle the solvent, and further purification of extracted products. In most cases, these additional steps are accomplished by means of distillation, and when necessary, are also studied during the pilot tests.

At Koch Modular, we often supply the extraction and distillation components as a complete modular system. Typical examples are illustrated on this page.

Our team of experienced engineers is available to work together with you on your next liquid-liquid extraction application, from conceptualization through start-up.

Advantages of Modular Construction for LLE

  • Lower cost/lump sum bid
  • Schedule compression
  • Minimal plant site interruption
  • Construction proceeds while waiting for permits
  • Single source responsibility
  • Progress of work is not affected by weather conditions
Capture Plant

Take a Deep Dive Into Liquid-Liquid Extraction

Introduction to Liquid Liquid Extraction: Learn all about LLE. From theory, uses, industrial applications, design considerations and extraction equipment types.

For more successful case studies by Koch Modular, visit our White Papers and Presentations.

LLE Development: Extraction Services From Bench Scale to Pilot Scale

Most projects involve a pilot test to provide the basis for commercial plant design. Unlike distillation, which can often be designed by simulations alone, liquid-liquid extraction usually has many unknown factors such as stage efficiency, rates of diffusion, flood point, emulsion formation, interface behavior, entrainment tendency and capacity data. Small trace impurities can have a significant impact on all of the above. For this reason, it is preferred to use only actual plant feed and solvent materials are best used for these tests.

Before pilot testing begins bench scale tests are performed to generate the liquid-liquid equilibrium data. Besides supplying the equilibrium data, these tests can reveal information on emulsions or entrainment that help guide extractor selection.

Bench Scale and Pilot Scale Tests

  • Equilibrium data
  • Mixing characteristics
  • Settling times
  • Extractor type selection for pilot test
  • Data for scale-up > stage efficiency, throughput, agitation speed
  • Demonstration of the entire process
  • Process optimization
  • Basis for performance guarantee

We select the appropriate extractor based on our review of each application. Pilot tests are then run to demonstrate the process performance as well as provide data for scale-up. These pilot tests are performed in the same type of extractor planned for the commercial scale. In some cases, more than one type of extractor will be tested to compare performance. See more details of Koch Modular’s Pilot Plant Capabilities.

In addition to the extractor, an extremely important aspect of any extraction application is the design of the system to recover and recycle the solvent. In most cases, these additional steps are accomplished by means of distillation, and when necessary, are also studied during the pilot tests.

Liquid-Liquid Extraction Column: Selection, Scale-up and Design

During the pilot plant tests, the extractor separation performance is measured over a range of flow rates, solvent to feed ratios and effective heights. If the extractor selected is agitated then the agitation speed is also varied. At each flow rate, the agitation is increased until the flood point is reached. From this data, the conditions that give the optimum volumetric efficiency are determined.

Next comes scaleup to commercial size. Any scaleup procedure must determine (1) how diameter varies with throughput and (2) how stage efficiency varies with diameter. For the agitated columns, there is an additional parameter to be determined, namely (3) how the power input varies with column size.

Finally the extractor is sized with the active zone height, together with the top and bottom settler zones and instrumentation for control of the column interface.

Koch Modular has a wide range of extractors to choose from, both static and agitated columns. Click on the column types below for more information on each.

Our team of experienced engineers is available to work together with you on your next liquid-liquid extraction application, from conceptualization through start-up.

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INQUIRE FOR OUR LLE SERVICES