The technology of degumming offers a solution for the removal of phosphorus from crude oil. Phosphorus is bound to phospholipids, which are undesirable for further oil processing. At higher temperatures, phospholipids burn to contact surfaces and thus hinder both edible oil refining process and uses for biofuel purposes.

Phospholipids end up burning to the surface of a saucepan in the kitchen, or to the pistons in car engines. Burning also causes unpleasant smell and damage to the exposed material.

Crude oil contains two kinds of phospholipids: hydratable and non-hydratable. Degumming involves adding of acid into the oil, which transforms non-hydratable phospholipids into hydratable. All hydratable phospholipids are then removed by the addition of water (hydration), which causes agglomeration of the phospholipids into flakes, which are subsequently centrifuge separated.

Phospholipid removal is always the first step of vegetable oil processing. It can be done together with free fatty acid (FFA) removal, which carries out the process of neutralization, which is an optional feature of the degumming technology.

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