Interview for ChemLife Magazine
Osman Calisir on oil purification market in Turkey and worldwide
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your role at Clariant?
My name is Osman Çalışır and I am working as Head of sales for Middle East and Africa regions at Clariant’s Functional Minerals Business Unit, Business Group Purification. I started my journey with Clariant as a shift engineer at Emulsion Plant in Istanbul, 2006 and I have taken over several responsibilities since then. I have a chemical engineering degree from Inonu University, and I have been working in the chemicals industry since I graduated.
Can you tell us a bit about the way you provide services in Turkey at the Functional Minerals Business Unit?
Clariant was formed in 1995 as a spin-off from the chemical company Sandoz, which was itself established in Basel in 1886. Through our direct lineage, we have amassed knowledge and experience of chemistry and the chemical industry spanning approximately a hundred-fifty years. Today, Clariant Functional Minerals Business Unit is active at 25 production sites and 38 mines globally. that is a global reach that we are truly proud of. Clariant offers unique products, applications, sustainability, innovation and expertise to the Turkish chemicals market which has strategic importance for us and our operations for the Middle East and Africa regions.
We are well-positioned to give our customers a global coverage with the supply reliability of a local player. We aim to be the bleaching earth supplier that they first go to. Today, we focus on developing optimized solutions for oil refining needs and pride ourselves on having a large range of product solutions in the industry. We also continually invest in developing new solutions to purify edible oils or biofuels for the future. With our excellent technical expertise and lab capacities, we can support our customers in a broad array of technical aspects. Furthermore, we regularly conduct technical seminars and provide regional technical on-site services.
In Turkey, we have two production sites for functional minerals; one located in Balıkesir while the other is in Fatsa, province of Ordu. Especially Balıkesir plant has been an important part of functional minerals production since 1992. In 2017, we opened a new bleaching earth production plant for our Business Unit Functional Minerals there, including an R&D laboratory, to enhance our existing manufacturing capacity. We started to produce Tonsil® in Turkey upon requests from local sunflower oil refiners to shorten lead times for bleaching solutions with an optimized cost and performance ratio.
As Clariant, we are one of the first providers in mineral-based dewatering technology. We are also exporting Tonsil® products from our Balıkesir plant into selected markets to make a significant contribution to Turkey’s strength in export. Moreover, we recently made an investment in our Fatsa facility to improve our production capacity.
How do you evaluate the edible oils and oil refining industry around the world? What are the most used products in terms of edible oils?
People have been using the oils they obtain from vegetables and seeds, for both food and cooking purposes for thousands of years. While the most-consumed oil in Southeast Asia and India is palm oil, in the Middle East sunflower oil is the most widespread. In Europe, rapeseed oil takes the top spot over palm oil, while China and the United States are the largest consumers of soybean oil.
What is 3-MCPD? Why is 3-MCPD considered as undesirable substance in oil?
There is no definitive explanation for 3-MCPD and how it is formed during the oil purification process. In experiments, 3-MCPD caused infertility in primates and induced cancer in male rats, although it did not damage any genes.
However, it is possible to keep the quantity of 3-MCPD and its derivatives in oils low by optimizing harvest, transport, and processing conditions. Long transport and storage times should be avoided since they may stimulate the process of 3-MCPD formation. Bleaching earth is traditionally used for oil purification and some variants are specifically designed to minimize the formation of 3-MCPD and its esters.
Do you have any special solutions or applications for your customers in terms of refining the undesirable substances?
For industrial purposes, oils must be free from pigments, inherent odors, and intrinsic flavors to the greatest possible extent by international quality standards. Palm oil is widely used to make baby food and other foods but can contain amounts of potentially cancer-causing 3-MCPD. Refining the oils makes them more suitable for consumption and extends their shelf life. However, physiologically valuable components are also removed from the oil as a result of the refining process. In some cases, the process itself can lead to the emergence of components that may adversely affect health.
Clariant has been offering sustainable and innovative products to the chemicals market for years. Our product Tonsil® Low 3-MCPD variants provide highly active bleaching earth that efficiently minimizes the level of 3-MCPD and its esters in palm oil. At the same time, Tonsil® reduces pigments, gums and other substances that can unfavorably affect the appearance, taste, odor and shelf life of edible oils. Tonsil® increases the shelf life of vegetable oils, also protects the nutrients in the oil and refines unwanted substances. The quality increase in vegetable oils can also contribute significantly to healthy nutrition.
Can you tell us a bit more about the benefits of Tonsil®?
As for the specific solutions for food industry, we as Clariant have been producing Tonsil® bleaching earths for a hundred-fourteen years based on different customer requirements. Tonsil® reduces undesirable substances from raw plant oils to produce edible oils in a careful and cost-efficient manner, while at the same time valuable nutrients such as vitamin E can be treated gently. We can say that Tonsil® purifies oils fast, thoroughly, and efficiently. There is a wide range of variants of Tonsil® that we offer as individual solutions for various customers and oils.
Bleaching earths are used in the edible oil refinement process to remove undesired substances. We reproduce our customers’ purification processes on a laboratory scale. We accurately tailor our Tonsil® Low 3- MCPD solutions with different types according to the demands of the customer. Our aim in Turkey is to contribute to the development of the industry by providing sustainable and innovative solutions.
Our product Tonsil® is based on natural raw materials. Our selective mining process, which is accompanied by continuous quality checks, and the market proximity of our production sites and mines enables a highly resource-efficient fulfillment of customer needs. This proximity also ensures short transport times and low transport costs. Bottom line is that only very little waste is produced during the entire process, thereby helping to protect the environment. A precise renaturation effort takes place in the bentonite mines following the utilization phase.
Can you please give some information your initiative in Fatsa?
We recently made new investments in our Fatsa plant by bringing our acid activation ability to this existing facility by adding new units. Our aim is to produce activated bleaching earth at the level of forty thousand tons annually. Our Fatsa facility is in Fatsa Organized Industrial Site close to the port and has a strong infrastructure.
We anticipate that the production experience of bleaching earths we have been obtaining in Balıkesir since 2017 will be transferred to this facility and intend to keep our production there on a long-term basis.