A method for getting the last drop of oil out of mint could pay dividends for farmers trying to comply with stringent water-discharge regulations, while getting the most out of their mint.
The method, available through ABS Materials in Wooster, Ohio, involves capturing oil with an organic silica media and then separating the oil from the media in a regeneration process.
Along the way, water used in the distillation process is cleaned, enabling distillers to reuse the water or discharge it in a condition that meets environmental regulatory standards.
ABS Materials is making the process available to growers in Indiana this year and eventually, if it proves as affordable and as successful as hoped, broaden the availability to farmers across North America.
For now, though, the company is doing what Kevin Kinder, the company’s vice president of business development, calls “our due diligence with our neighbors in Indiana.”
He added, “I firmly believe that we can give those farmers in Indiana a leg up in the marketplace.”
The origination of ABS’s Regenex Industrial Treatment System, and the organic media that is the central part of this technology, came out of a U.S. Department of Defense-funded study conducted by Paul Edmiston, a chemistry professor at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, into means of detecting TNT and other explosives.
“Through this research, he developed the media,” Kinder said. “What he came up with is very innovative. It is a platform technology that not only reaches into oil extractions, but into industrial waste water, oil and gas, even into personal care products like body spray or laundry detergent for extended fragrance release.
“What sets this media apart,” Kinder said, “is its unique ability to capture exponentially greater amounts of organics and to release them.”
ABS Materials tested the technology in mint at the farm of Larry Wappel in San Pierre, Indiana, last summer and found it performed as expected.
“We plugged our system into the end of their system and we were able to capture that one- to three-percent of the mint oil that was (previously) being lost,” Kinder said.
Next the company began working on ways of bringing down the cost of the technology, given that to purchase or lease the technology might not be feasible for farmers, given the short window of time each year it would be put to use.
What ABS is looking at involves supplying a vessel with the amount of media needed by an operation for a processing season and plugging it into their system, Kinder said.
“The only thing we would need is what their projected water use would be throughout the processing period,” he said.
“At the end of the processing season we would come out to the farm, take that vessel back to our headquarters outside of Cleveland and regenerate that media for that farmer and extract the mint oil,” Kinder said. “Then we would take it back to the farmer for them to do whatever they want to do with it, and then ship back a brand new vessel to them ready for the next year.
“We would do the heavy lifting as far as coming in, getting it, regenerating it and giving the farmer back the mint oil,” Kinder said. “It is a much more cost effective way for the individual farmer to use this technology because the only thing we are providing is the media in the vessel and the apparatus to connect it to their current facility.
“I mean, we would love to lease ten of these units to farmers, but we understand the economics of the industry and we don’t want to take advantage of that, so that is why we came up with this solution,” he said.
The idea for the solution came out of a meeting with a farmer at a trade show in Chicago, Kinder said. During the discussion, the farmer mentioned that his family had been in the mint business since the 1920s and that new regulations in Indiana threatened the operation’s longevity.
“That is where we came up with this idea, was in talking to this one farmer,” Kinder said.
Farmers in Indiana who are interested in using the technology are asked to call Kinder at 330-234-7999.
More information on the technology can be obtained through the company’s website,