Wiped Film Distillation: Applications & Advantages


Wiped film distillation is a game changer in the world of chemical processing. It has brought about a revolution in industries such as pharmaceuticals and food. This makes it suitable for handling heat-sensitive materials efficiently without causing any damage to them. In this article, we will discuss the basics of wiped film distillation. Moreover, we will focus on its applications and benefits that make it popular among numerous manufacturers.

What is Wiped Film Distillation?

Wipe film distillation also known as thin film distillation or thin film evaporation is a highly efficient separation process that combines the principles of evaporation and distillation. It involves the formation of a thin liquid layer on a heated surface, which is constantly stirred by wipers. This unique design allows for quick removal through vaporization of high molecular weight compounds from the source.

Core Principles of Wiped Film Distillation

The essence of wiped film distillation lies in the creation of a thin, turbulent liquid sheet. The material to be distilled is spread out into an extremely thin layer thereby maximizing heat transfer area leading to fast evaporation. These blades made from Teflon or other inert materials continuously shave off any excess film ensuring that there are no buildups within the system.

The Core Components of Wiped Film Distillation Units

A typical wiped film distillation unit consists of several key components:

  • Evaporator Body: A cylindrical vessel oriented vertically with heating jacket.
  • Wiper Assembly: A rotating shaft with wiper blades that bring about even distribution and prevent the pool from becoming stagnant.
  • Feed Inlet: An opening through which feed material can enter evaporator section
  • Vapor Outlet: The port at which volatile fractions removed are collected as vapor than condensed later separate them.
  • Condenser: A device that cools down vapour into liquid product.
  • Vacuum system: Vacuum pump/cold trap that keeps reduced pressure hence enhancing fractionation efficiency.
parts of Wiped Film Distillation

How Thin Film Distillation Works

At the beginning of wiped film distillation process, one feeds material to evaporator through a feed inlet. Feed liquid spreads on the heated inner surface of the evaporator body to form a thin liquid film. When the blades of wipers rotate, they continuously spread and agitate this film thereby exposing it to the heated surface.

Reduced temperature and pressure cause quick vaporization of volatile compounds. These vapors are collected through vapor outlet and sent for condensation. While at this point, they cool down and condense into liquid distillate. The remaining non-volatile parts called residue are discharged from the bottom of the evaporator.

Comparing Wiped Film with Traditional Distillation Methods

Compared with methods such as batch or packed column distillation, wiped film distillation has several advantages:

  • Reduced residence times: Short heat-sensitive materials exposure by allowing a thin layer that dries out quickly.
  • Lower operating temperatures: By reducing pressure and improving heat transfer, wiped-film distillations can be run cooler.
  • Higher efficiency: Continuous agitation and turbulent flow enhance mass transfer thus increasing separation efficiency.
  • Gentle processing: This makes it good for delicate molecules because it reduces thermal degradation resulting from short heating periods.

For instance, research in Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology shows that wiped film distillation can achieve residence times as short as 1-10 seconds while traditional batch distillations may take minutes or even hours.

Applications of Wiped Film Distillation

This process is employed by many industries. It is so useful due to its versatility and ability to handle different materials. Let us take a look at the main impacts of this technology in certain areas.

Pharmaceutical Industry Uses

APIs and intermediates are purified through wiped film distillation in the pharmaceutical industry. This machinery is particularly ideal for processing heat sensitive compounds such as vitamins, steroids, and antibiotics. By operating at lower temperatures with shorter residence times, it protects against thermal damage and allows the final product to remain potent and high quality.

Chemical Processing Applications

Wiped film distillation plays a critical role in chemical processing industries. These are:

  • Monomers and polymers
  • Organic acids and esters
  • Essential oils and fragrances
  • Specialty chemicals and additives

This is possible because it has a capability of handling higher boiling points as well as viscous feedstocks that are not suitable for other distillation techniques.

Food and Beverage Industry Innovations

Concentration and purification of ingredients as well as products are done using the wiped film distillation method in the food & beverage industry. They include;

  • Concentrating fruit juices and extracts
  • Purifying edible oils and fats.
  • Recovery of valuable compounds from food waste’s extracts.
  • Deodorizing food-grade chemicals and decolorizing it.

When applied to foods or beverages, their natural flavor, smell or nutritional value will be retained since they are destroyed during the process of refining them using less efficient technologies like boiling or evaporation systems that utilize hot air currents thereby evaporating almost all active substances present within them.

Specialized Uses in the Cannabis Industry

As acceptance for cannabis products grows, wiped film distillation has found itself with an unusual place in this sector. It separates CBD among other cannabinoids from crude cannabis extract. The desirable constituents are concentrated while impurities such chlorophylls and waxes are effectively removed during this process.

According to Grand View Research, the global cannabis extract market size was estimated at USD 7.3 billion in 2019 and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.6% from 2020 to 2027. Thus, wiped film distillation may be necessary in order to meet increased demand for high-quality cannabis extracts and other derivatives.

Applications of Wiped Film Distillation

Advantages of Wiped Film Distillation

Wiped film distillation offers several compelling advantages that make it a preferred choice for many industrial applications. Let’s delve into some of the key benefits of this innovative technology.

Maximizing Evaporation Rates for Efficient Processing

One of the primary advantages of thin film evaporator is its ability to achieve high evaporation rates, enabling efficient processing of large volumes of material. The thin liquid film, coupled with the continuous agitation provided by the wiper blades, maximizes the surface area for heat transfer. This results in rapid evaporation and shorter processing times compared to traditional distillation methods.

Tackling Heat-Sensitive Materials

Many materials, particularly in the pharmaceutical and food industries, are sensitive to heat and prone to thermal degradation. Wiped film distillation addresses this challenge by operating at lower temperatures and shorter residence times. Thin film allows for efficient heat transfer, reducing the exposure of the material to high temperatures. This gentle processing approach minimizes the risk of thermal degradation, preserving the quality and integrity of heat-sensitive compounds.

Minimized Contamination Risks

Contamination is a critical concern in many industrial processes, especially in the production of high-purity products. Wiped film distillation offers a significant advantage in this regard, as it minimizes the risk of contamination. The enclosed nature of the system, along with the continuous flow of material, reduces the chances of external contaminants entering the process. Additionally, the use of non-reactive materials, such as stainless steel and Teflon, prevents interactions between the equipment and the processed material, further reducing contamination risks.

Enhancing Wiped Film Evaporation Efficiency

While wiped film distillation is already a highly efficient process, there are ways to further enhance its performance. One such approach is the use of rotary evaporators in combination with wiped film distillation.

Rotary Evaporators: A Versatile Tool for Preparing Concentrated Solutions

Wiped film distillation is already very efficient, but there are ways to make it even better. One approach is to use rotary evaporators along with wiped film distillation.

The use of rotary evaporators prior to wiped film distillation offers several benefits:

Rotary evaporators are also known as rotovaps and they are versatile lab tools. They gently and efficiently remove solvents from samples. Rotary evaporators work differently from wiped film distillation units although such can be used in the preparation of concentrated solutions for the latter.

Sometimes, rotary evaporation is used as a first step to concentrate the feed material before it goes into the wiped film distillation system. By concentrating the solution first, the overall efficiency of the wiped film distillation improves. This method reduces material volume that must be processed and allows more precise control over conditions of distillation.

Moreover, modern rotary evaporators come in larger volumes, suitable for industrial-scale distillation. Both technologies can be combined by using both rotary evaporation and wiped film distillation simultaneously; combining their benefits. These technologies may operate at lower temperatures under vacuum conditions hence ensuring maximum purity as well as yield of desired products.


GWSI (Great Wall Scientific Industries) offers reliable pieces of equipment when it comes to quality distillations. These are distributors who sell rotary evaporator sizes ranging from 1L to 50L which meets diverse needs. GWSI’s rotary evaporators are made out of durable, high temperature borosilicate glass brands which can withstand high heat levels without cracking. Explosion-proof models are also available for applications requiring extra safety measures.

Users who use GWSI’s Rotary Evaporators in combination with a wiped film distillation setup have an added advantage on versatility and reliability aspects about them. In turn this enhances the efficiency in question entirely.


Wiped film distillation is an innovative technology. It altered how several substances are handled and refined by us. In the field of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food, and cannabis industries, it creates a thin turbulent liquid film that is advantageous to many users. For example, this technique exhibits excellent efficiency with mild processes and high product purity.

It can handle heat sensitive materials as well as achieve high evaporation rates. Additionally it reduces chances of contamination taking place. These characteristics differentiate it from customary distillation techniques. There are also other technologies like rotary evaporators that help improve efficiency and versatility.

Industries are always looking for new solutions for separation and purification purposes while wiped film distillation becomes increasingly significant by time. This technology already has good reputation and continues to grow more every day because of its further progress in development This technique holds much promise for advancement and creation of new brand top-notch products across various fields.

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What Makes Wiped Film Distillation Suitable for Volatile Compounds?

Volatile compounds are effectively processed by wiped film distillation. Its distinctive design and operation make it the best option. These include:

Short residence times: Fast boiling-off is facilitated by thin liquid film and its continuous motion, thereby reducing the time available to heat sensitive materials and lessening the risk of thermal damage.

Lower operating temperatures: This method allows operations to be carried out at lower temperatures than traditional distillation. It is made possible by reduced pressure and effective heat transfer. Lower temperatures preserve volatile compounds’ quality.

Efficient mass transfer: Mass transfer is improved by creating turbulence through a turbulent flow caused by wiper blades during evaporation and concentration of a feed material that has volatile components.

Reduced pressure operation: In most cases, this type of distillation takes place under vacuum conditions. The boiling points of volatile compounds decrease as a result. It makes processing gentler; hence, reduces possibilities of thermal damage occurring.

thin filmed distillation

Can Wiped Film Distillation Be Used for All Types of Distillates?

Parameter ComparisonWiped Film DistillationTraditional Distillation Methods
Residence Time1-10 secondsMinutes to hours
Operating TemperatureLowerHigher
Processing of Heat-Sensitive SubstancesGentleMay cause thermal degradation
Wiped Film Distillation vs. Traditional Distillation Methods

Wiped film distillation is versatile in nature and often used in practice. Nevertheless, there can be some types of distillates not fit for it. Moreover, its performance depends on such factors as feed properties, desired product qualities as well as operating conditions among others.

Viscosity: High-viscosity substances are good candidates for wiped film distillation because they create an environment where no layer stagnation occurs due to thin liquid film and persistent mixing, both ensuring efficient thermal conductivity. Nonetheless, extremely viscous masses might necessitate additional procedures like pre-heating or designing special blades for the wiper system.

Thermal sensitivity: This process is useful when dealing with thermolabile substances since it employs mild methods during production process (distillation).

Boiling point differences: Separation in wiped film distillation process is based on the disparities in boiling points between required components and impurities. If the difference in boiling points is quite small, then it will be difficult to achieve an efficient separation.

Feed composition: The feed material’s composition can affect the performance of wiped film distillation. For example, if the non-volatile constituents or particulate matter are present in large amounts, then pretreatment steps like filtering or solvent extraction may enhance its productivity.

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