Three special things10/01/2008 The customer is special, the product is special, and the production system is special – the new Bühler extrusion system operated by the Brazilian company Inquil Indústria de Amidos Especiais Ltda for producing modified starch for industrial applications. Set up in 1970 as part of Motrisa agro-group, Inquil has contributed significantly to the industrial development of the Brazilian economy for over 30 years. Today, Inquil Indústria de Amidos Especiais Ltda, as the company has been named since 2004, is headquartered in Treze de Maio in the federal state of Santa Catarina in the south of Brazil. Inquil produces tapioca starch and other modified flours for the Brazilian food industry as a side business. But the company’s main activity is the production of modified starch for industrial applications.
Cassava root as raw material
Over the years, Inquil Indústria de Amidos Especiais Ltda has evolved into a specialist for producing specialty modified starches for a wide variety of uses. The raw material for making modified starch is the root of the cassava (manioc) plant. The treated and dried root is processed into tapioca, an all but tasteless starch. Worldwide, some 190 million metric tons of tapioca are produced, a little more than 10 percent in Brazil. In its unmodified form, tapioca is a staple food for about 500 million people in various African, Asian, and South American countries.
Cosmetics to oil extraction
Inquil transforms tapioca into modified starch. Tapioca is transformed into water-soluble and extremely water-absorbent and sticky modified starch. Together with other secret ingredients, this starch is mixed into a specialty binder for industrial applications. The specialty starches produced by Inquil are ultimately used in such exotic areas as crude oil extraction for binding drilling sludge or in the foundry industry for binding sand particles or clay-type minerals. But Inquil starch is also applied by the cosmetics and textile industries in the form of different binders.
New Bühler customer
Until a year ago, Inquil produced its modified starch on a single-screw extruder from a South American manufacturer. But because of recurrent machine failures and downtimes, Inquil Directors Pedro Tocchetto Thormann, Marcelo Belleza Stella and Lázaro Antonio Alves sought an alternative. Upon the recommendation of a German starch producer, the board directors came into contact with the Bühler extrusion specialists. Together, the partners looked for a solution for this specific application of Inquil.
The Inquil directors were soon convinced that the Bühler extrusion process was what they needed.
Complete extrusion system
In May 2005, Inquil ordered a complete extrusion system. A twin-screw extruder was chosen for the core extrusion process, with two intermeshing screws that clean each other. The order also comprised the entire process control system. The customer provided the raw material feed system and the grinding equipment. The compact production line was installed in a new building and went into service in the course of 2006.
Ever since, Inquil’s new starch production system has been running smoothly and to the customer’s entire satisfaction. Inquil Directors: “We are very happy about the handling of the project and also the performance of the new system.” Inquil is already teaming up with Bühler to tackle a new project: an extrusion system for making foodgrade starch.