The crude oil from the solvent extraction process contains water soluble components, primarily comprised of phospholipids, which need to be removed from the oil to enable minimum precipitation and settling during oil transport and long term storage. The water degumming process involves adding water to the crude oil, hydrating the water soluble components, and then removing the majority of them via centrifugal separation. The light phase after centrifugal separation is the crude degummed oil, and the heavy phase after centrifugal separation is a combination of water, water soluble components and entrained oil, collectively referred to as “gums”. The crude degummed oil is dried and cooled before being sent to storage. The gums are pumped back onto the meal.

Purifine® phospholipase C enzyme (supplied by DSM) is added to the crude oil during the degumming operation to enhance oil yield. This enzyme selectively splits the phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl ethanolamine type phospholipids into a diglyceride and a phosphorus containing molecule. The diglyceride directly becomes a portion of the oil yield. The reduced phospholipid content to the centrifugal separator reduces the quantity of entrained oil with the gums. This dual impact increases oil yield in the range of 1-2% during degumming.


The advantages of the Desmet Ballestra enzymatic water degumming process are as follows:

Maximized Yield
1-2% higher yield when compared to traditional water degumming
Majority of phospholipids converted to diglyceride oil
Less total gums results in less separator oil losses

Minimum Enzyme Consumption
Approximately 1 ppm enzyme per 6 ppm of phosphorus
Crude Oil Cooler to adjust temperature for maximum enzyme activity
High shear mixing for optimum enzyme/water distribution into the oil
2 hours reaction time via plug-flow, multi-compartment, stirred Enzyme Reactors
Crude Oil Heater to deactivate enzyme and optimise gums separation
Mass flow meters and auto-samplers to monitor performance

Higher Protein Meal
Reduced gums quantity reduces dilution of meal protein