Remember eating those vividly colored ice popsicles as a kid? Not only were they delicious and cooling; there was a fun element to eating them as well.You could soak up the sweet-tasting syrup from the popsicle, leaving behind a colorless icy structure. What you probably did not realize at the time, is that you were in the middle of carrying out your own separation and purification process. Manufacturers had composed the popsicle by combining water and syrup in a melt crystallization process, which you in turn reverted through your very own purification step. Most people are still not aware of the power of this cool separation method, which is why in this blog, we answer seven frequently asked questions.
1. How do melt crystallization and purification work?
When you cool down a mixture of chemical materials, the component with the lowest solubility will eventually start to form crystals. Crystals have very regular structures in which the other components or impurities do not fit. The impurities therefore assemble in the remaining liquid. In the Hydraulic Wash Column, the impurities that remained on the crystals’ surface can be easily removed. In this way, you obtain products with a purity of more than 99.9 wt% in a single step process.
2. Is this high purity process a thing in the real world?
Yes, it is. Over the last fifteen years, melt crystallization technologies and the Hydraulic Wash Column have been developed and fine tuned by Dutch research institute TNO. They were tested at pilot scale on more than fifty chemical products, and currently a number of commercial plants are in operation at various scales.
3. Can I join the melt crystallization movement?
Probably yes. An estimated 450 compounds can be processed with melt crystallization and this number increases every year. It is true that some substances are more qualified than others, and we will give you our expert advice whether your product is suited for melt crystallization. Moreover, we continue to add more substances to the priority list as we go along.
4. Is it true that melt crystallization is a green alternative to distillation?
In most cases yes. Whereas the frequently used distillation method occurs at the boiling point of the substance, melt crystallization happens at the solidification (or melting) point. When operating at lower temperatures, you often save out on both energy and costs. And in contrast to distillation, melt crystallization is so selective that you do not need to repeat it to reach high purity. Moreover, as hydraulic wash columns do not cause a recycle of contaminated wash liquid, it helps to keep your process simple and lean. Lastly, cooling down chemicals is often safer than distilling them, meaning there is less risk of accidents.
5. Can I go big with melt crystallization?
Yes, you can. We have performed many pilot trials in our own lab in Rotterdam and have the experience and know-how to develop the technology on an industrial scale. This scale differs from several kilos to 36 tons per hour, making the technology also applicable for bulk chemical processes. Like we said earlier, this already happens on a commercial scale today.
6. Where do I go if I have more questions?
If you have questions, you can turn to us. “Us” being SoliQz: a close-knit team of three specialists in melt crystallization and purification technology. We not only test your substances to ascertain their fit with melt crystallization; we also carry out the complete project management of melt crystallization and wash column units in your very own plant. We will train your personnel, advise you on how to get the most out of melt crystallization and remain available for questions long after you have started crystallizing.
7. What should I read to get up to speed?
This one is easy: the white paper below this article. In “Purify your business- high purity chemicals through melt crystallization” you will find out more about this innovative purification technique and how it can help you create high purity chemicals in a better, safer, and more efficient way. It is free of charge and will be sent to your inbox within seconds.
Happy reading! For the ultimate reading experience, we advise some ice cream on the side.