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Technology for Sale:

Continuous Room-Temperature Biodiesel Production    

A European Institute has developed a new continuous process for the room-temperature production of biodiesel. The main advantage of this technology is the avoidance of soap formation.

Overview

Vegetable oil methyl esters are generally produced at 60 °C in the presence of 1 % KOH/NaOMe catalyst with stirring for 15-60 min. The main technological problem is the soap formation which causes a series of problems in washing and separation technology of the pure product. Our experiments showed that the high temperature (which causes by reactions with soap formation) needs only to reach an appropriate reaction rate. This reaction is very slow at room temperature because the interaction takes place only at the surface of the two non-miscible phases, methanol and vegetable oil.

Using our new PT (phase transfer) catalyst in 1 % amount, the methanol and the vegetable oil become miscible with each other and can react in a homogeneous solution phase reaction. In this way, the reaction takes place even at room temperature in 5-10 min. The fast reaction leaves us to use tube reactor and continuous operation mode.The other consequence of this system is the low rate of soap formation because of the low temperature. The potassium content in the raw ester phase is only 2-300 ppm without any washing.

A dilute (2 %) KHSO4 solution can be used for washing out of the low alkali content from the reaction mixture without emulsion formation in one step. Since the methanol and glycerol contents are also low in the ester phase (due to the low soap concentration), thus this treatment removes the all of the residual glycerol and main part of the methanol either from the ester phase.

The used PT catalyst consist of an alcoholic functional group, therefore our PT catalyst is reactive and builts into the product as an ester group (subtitute the methanol as an equivalent alcohol), therefore does not cause problem in the separation of glycerol phase. It means, the sedimentation of the glycerol and the aq. KHSO4 solutions can be made in continuous separators, so the technology can be performed in a continuous operational mode. The KHSO4 solution transforms into K2SO4 during the catalyst removing and the formed K2SO4 solution can be regenerated in an ion-exchange process. It gives a chance to recirculate the „KHSO4 acid” up to the accumulaton of the glycerol and methanol in this phase. The exhausted ion-exchanger can be regenerated with 20% H2SO4.


Main advantages:

- Room temperature process, energy saving
- Avoidance of soap formation, thus many other problems do not occur, like:
- Problems during emulsion formation
- Washing problems
- Slow phase splitting
- Continuous production technology in a simple apparatus (tube reactor)
- Cheap catalyst removing (KHSO4 or H2SO4) by recyclization of catalyst-removing KHSO4 (acid) with regenerable ion-exchangers
- The byproducts (K2SO4, glycerol or methanol)) can be used as rapeseed production fertilizer or starting material for biogas production
- No water in glycerol phase
- Low methanol and potassium content in the raw ester phase

Primary Application of the Technology

Typical application areas:
Biofuel production plants, fuxel mixing firms

Typical customers:
Refineries, biodiesel producers, vegetable oil producers

Notes on Sales Status

The client is interested in:
- license agreement
- sales of production equipment (with 3 options):
o sales of production equipment only
o sales of production equipment + plans
o sales of production equipment + plans + installation