Pursuing green initiatives in any industry can be difficult, but it can be particularly challenging for the oil milling industry. Regardless of whether oilseeds are processed for consumption, non-edible products like soap, fuel, or animal feed, the financial margin for error is slim. The decision to make changes to long-established practices or invest in new equipment can be harrowing.
But the fact is that consumer demand for greener products and environmentally friendly business practices are at an all-time high. Businesses need to stay ahead of the market or risk being left behind as buying power trends towards more eco-friendly companies.
What does it mean to go green, and how does that look in an oil milling plant?
What is greener oil milling?
According to Goodwin University, green manufacturing is establishing environmentally friendly operations that reduce pollution and waste, use fewer natural resources, recycle and reuse materials, and reduce emissions from processing.
Manufacturers that pursue green initiatives can utilize technologies and practices that lessen their impact on the environment. But in addition to environmental reasons, there are several profit-related reasons manufacturers are putting effort into sustainability practices:
• Increase operational efficiency by reducing waste and costs
• Improve competitive advantage by reaching new customers
• Create long-term business viability
• Build public trust and strengthen brand and reputation
• Proactively stay ahead of expanding green business regulations
In the oil milling industry, processors that want to reap sustainability benefits need to address several challenges. Many of today’s oil processing plants use large, energy-consuming machinery, harmful chemicals and follow a linear economy of take-make-dispose.
But new technology exists to help processors achieve their goals toward greener manufacturing operations. One process change involves installing an Anderson International’s Dox™ to take advantage of chemical-free and efficient high-shear dry extrusion.
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High-shear dry extrusion for greener oil milling
High-shear dry extrusion refers to the preparation of oilseeds before entering a screw press. An extruder deactivates harmful enzymes, flash-dries excess moisture, and cooks the proteins for more efficient pressing.
Eliminates harmful chemicals
Unlike solvent extraction, the extruder and press system does not use any harmful chemicals during processing. In solvent extraction, hexane is the most widely used chemical to separate the solids from the fats.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s data indicates that hexane is a widely occurring atmospheric pollutant. It is labeled a carcinogen, unsafe for humans, and is highly combustible. Reports show that oilseed milling facilities are the biggest offenders of releasing hexane into the environment among all food manufacturing subsectors.
The extruder system answers this environmental challenge by eliminating the need for chemicals during processing. Instead, dry extrusion uses mechanical energy to shear, cook, and dry oilseeds, and the screw press uses friction and pressure to compress the seed material.
Reduces energy consumption
The mechanical energy in the extruder creates the heat necessary to prepare the oilseed for the press without an external heat element or steam. It eliminates the need for boilers and replaces energy-consuming machines like flaking mills, dryers, and cookers. High-shear dry extrusion also means a smaller footprint and, in terms of energy, lower cost per ton than a traditional processing plant.
Additionally, having an extruder ahead of the screw press increases the efficiency of the press, further reducing energy consumption.
Because the extruder uses only electrical energy, processors can utilize clean, renewable sources to supply their system. Renewable energy resources are one of the most effective solutions to supplement processing demand and reduce environmental pollution.
Installing an extruder ahead of a press doubles the life of the pressing equipment parts. Processors require fewer spare parts and reduce waste in the plant. Manufacturers also benefit from decreased downtime since high-contact press parts last longer before needing to be replaced.
When purchasing the Dox extruder directly from Anderson, processors have access to the Return Material Authorization program for the machine’s lifetime. Anderson experts will inspect, rebuild, and salvage as many parts as possible when repairing the machine, saving the processor money and reducing unnecessary waste.
The first step towards greener oil milling
Oil millers focused on reducing their environmental impact should choose high-shear dry extrusion for processing. An extruder eliminates the need for harmful chemicals, decreases energy consumption, and minimizes waste. By installing an Anderson Dox extruder, processors can gain a competitive advantage while adapting to ever-increasing consumer demand for greener business practices.