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Developpment of a biodiesel production plant by Prasad Ramesh Patil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

EWB-UK National Research & Education Conference 2011 Our Global Future 4th March 2011

Development of a biodiesel production plant Prasad Ramesh Patil

Supervisor: Dr Tim Short University of Liverpool

Fuels are inevitable for industrial development and growth of any country. The life span of fossil fuel resources has always been terrifying. Biodiesel, a renewable source of energy seems to be an ideal solution for global energy demands including India as well. Amongst different biofuels pathways available, biodiesel from agriculture derived and low cost feedstock appears to be the feasible ready to market. The objective of the present work is to make a detailed analysis of a biodiesel production plant design characteristics, considering that the raw materials will also be locally produced. Furthermore, the feasibility of such a plant is evaluated and useful conclusions are drawn in respect to the unit production cost and various other technical and economical parameters.

Keywords: Biodiesel, Transesterification Catalyst Alcohol Producti Production on units, Biodiesel plant Design and feasibility Analysis, Cost

1. Introduction
Interest in renewable fuels has increased substantially in recent years. Much of this interest is attributable due to the upward trend of traditional fuels cost, environmental concerns associated with fossil fuels, and increasing dependence on foreign energy. This has lead to increase in demand of the alternative fuel Biodiesel. Biodiesel is an alternative fuel for diesel engines that is gaining attention all over the world. It Its s primary advantages deal with it being one of the most renewable fuels currently available and it is also non-toxic and biodegradable. It can also be used directly in most diesel engines without requiring extensive engine modifications.

What is biodiesel? Biodiesel is defined as the mono-alkyl esters of fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats. In simple terms, biodiesel is the product is available when a vegetable oil or animal fat is chemically reacted with an alcohol to produce a new compound that is known as a fatty acid alkyl ester. A catalyst such as sodium or potassium hydroxide is required. Byproduct produced is Glycerol.
The approximate proportions of the reaction are: 100 kg of oil + 10 kg of methanol 100 kg of biodiesel + 10 kg of glycerol

Figure:-1 Chemicacal reaction Biodiesel process. Source: Biofuelsystemms. Chemi l reaction of of Biodiesel process. Source: Biofuelsyste s. [1]

Panel Presentation: Energy Author: Prasad Ramesh Patil Institution: University of Liverpool


EWB-UK UK National Research & Education Conference 2011 Our Global Future 4th March 2011

2. Production Process There are three methods of biodiesel production. This classification is based on the type of catalyst used 1. 2. 3. Base-catalyzed catalyzed transesterification of the oil with methanol Acid-catalyzed catalyzed esterification of the oil with methanol Supercritical methanol process.

Most of the biodiesel produced today is done with the base catalyzed reaction or with Supercritical Methanol in comparison with acid catalyzed esterfication

catalyzed transesterification of the oil with metha methanol Base-catalyzed The block flow diagram shown below of the process of a base base-catalyzed catalyzed biodiesel process depicts typical product yields
Feedstock Process Product

Animal/vegetable fat

Methyl Ester Process

Methyl ester


Methanol Fatty matter

Catalyst Methanol

Figure Figure-2.1 Block diagram Of the Biodiesel Process

The base catalyzed production of biodiesel generally occurs using the following steps [2] Mixing of alcohol and catalyst: The catalyst is typically sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) or potassium hydroxide (potash). It is dissolved in the alcohol using a standard agitator or mixer. Reaction: The alcohol/catalyst mix is then charged into a closed reaction ves vessel sel and the oil or fat is added. The system from here on is totally closed to the atmosphere to prevent the loss of alcohol. The reaction mix is kept just above the boiling point of the alcohol (around 160 F) to speed up the reaction and the reaction take takes s place. Recommended reaction time varies from 1 to 8 hours, and some systems recommend the reaction take place at room temperature. Excess alcohol is normally used to ensure total conversion of the fat or oil to its esters. Care must be taken to monitor the t amount of water and free fatty acids in the incoming oil or fat. If the free fatty acid level or water level is too high it may m cause problems with soap formation and the separation of the glycerin by by-product product downstream. Separation: Once the reaction is complete, two major products exist: Glycerin and biodiesel. Each has a substantial amount of the excess methanol that was used in the reaction. The reacted mixture is sometimes neutralized at this step if needed. The glycerin phase is much denser than bio biodiesel diesel phase and the two can be gravity separated with glycerin simply drawn off the bottom of the settling vessel. In some cases, a centrifuge is used to separate the two materials faster. Alcohol Removal: Once the glycerin and biodiesel phases have been separated, the excess alcohol in each phase is removed with a flash evaporation process or by distillation. In others systems, the alcohol is removed and the mixture neutralized before the glycerin and esters have been separated. In either case, the alcoho alcohol l is recovered using distillation equipment and is re-used. used. Care must be taken to ensure no water accumulates in the recovered alcohol stream. Glycerin Neutralization: The glycerin by by-product product contains unused catalyst and soaps that are neutralized with an acid and sent to storage as crude glycerin. In some cases the salt formed during this phase is recovered for use as fertilizer. In most cases the salt is left in the glycerin. Water and alcohol are removed to produce 80 80-88% 88% pure glycerin that is ready to be e sold as crude glycerin. In more sophisticated operations, the glycerin is distilled to 99% or higher purity and sold into the cosmetic and pharmaceutical markets. Methyl Ester Wash: Once separated from the glycerin, the biodiesel is sometimes purified by washing gently with warm water to remove residual catalyst or soaps, dried, and sent to storage. There are two type of washing the biodiesel Water Wash Dry wash

Panel Presentation: Energy Author: Prasad Ramesh Patil Institution: University of Liverpool


EWB-UK UK National Research & Education Conference 2011 Our Global Future 4th March 2011

Water Wash The most common method of removing these impurities is wet washing. Wet washing uses water as a solvent to carry away the impurities, leaving the pure biodiesel behind. But wet washing has disadvantages. Its a time-consuming time step requiring many hours for the biodiesel and water to completely separate. Wet washing can also leave residual resid traces of water in the fuel. The final problem is the disposal of the hazardous effluent waste which is the by product of the wet wash[3]

Dry Wash Dry washing is an alternative. In dry washing, an adsorbent is added that attracts and combines with impurities, imp separating them from the biodiesel. Some systems use ion exchange resins as the adsorbent, while others use a mineral called magnesium silicate, one type of which is marketed under the name Magnesol by the Dallas Group of America Inc. batch or continuous tinuous processes, removes residual methanol, providing a cost savings in the stripping step. [4] Advantage of dry washing No water-effluent stream No emulsification Improved oxidative stability (OSI) Minimal yield loss Minimal capital expenditure Allows for continuous operation

This is normally the end of the production process resulting in a clear amber amber-yellow yellow liquid with a viscosity similar to petrodiesel. In some systems the biodiesel is distilled in an additional step to remove small amounts of color bodies to produce a colorless biodiesel.

Water separation

Sand filtrate

Crude oil


Soapy Paste separation

Figure-2.2a Transesterification Layout, Oil Feedstock Pre Pre-Treatment. Treatment. Source: Appa[17]

Panel Presentation: Energy Author: Prasad Ramesh Patil Institution: University of Liverpool


EWB-UK UK National Research & Education Conference 2011 Our Global Future 4th March 2011


Methyl Alcohol

Base Decantador Metyl esther

Glycerin Phase separator


Glycerin rin purification

Crude glycerin

Glycerin evaporation

Metylester Washing column (eliminate Drying phase 1 Drying phase 2 Biodiesel

Figure:-2.2b 2.2b Transesterification Layout, Reaction. Source: APPA[17]

Supercritical Methanol Process The need for processing cheaper feedstocks in order to decrease the high price of biodiesel has been pointed out. Some plant oils like soy and sunflower oils ils have a highly fluctuating price and in some years their use can be shifted from the making of biodiesel to the food market due to high international prices. Beef tallow and yellow grease are inexpensive feedstocks discarded by some industries which cou could ld be advantageously used in the making of biodiesel. They contain high amounts of free fatty acids (FFA, 5-30%) 30%) and they cannot be directly processed by facilities working with the alkali catalyzed process. Many solutions have been proposed for the handli handling of acidic feedstocks [5] (i) pre-neutralization neutralization is easy but produces a net yield loss if the soaps are not recycled; (ii) (ii) pre-esterification esterification of the FFA with methanol or glycerol, catalyzed by strong acids (slow), followed by esterification in alkaline medium um (fast) (iii) Fully acid-catalyzed catalyzed esterification. Acid catalysts are not as effective as the alkaline ones and take much longer reaction times, thus leading to big reactor volumes. The process catalyzed by alkalis (NaOH, KOH) or by acids (H2SO4) need of wash washing ing steps to eliminate the dissolved catalyst. Washing is also used to eliminate glycerol and produces great amounts of effluents (3-10 (3 wastewater litres/litre biodiesel) [6]. If washing is performed without flashing the untreated methanol the (water (water-metha methanol-glycerol) mixture must be distilled in order to recycle the methanol. An alternative process to the catalytic ones has been recently developed by Japanese researchers [30]. The process comprises the one-stage stage transesterification with supercritical meth methanol, anol, in the absence of any catalyst. At high temperatures methanol is in a supercritical state (Tc=235 C) and forms a homogeneous phase with the oil phase, something that does not occur in the other conventional processes, unless a minimum threshold of 25% 2 conversion is attained [7] Reaction by supercritical methanol has some advantages: [8] Glycerides and free fatty acids are reacted with equivalent rates. The homogeneous phase eliminates diffusive problems. The process tolerates great percentages of w water in the feedstock [9] catalytic process requires the periodical removal of water in the feedstock or in intermediate stage to prevent catalyst deactivation. The catalyst removal step is eliminated. If high methanol: oil ratios are used, total convers conversion ion of the oil can be achieved in a few minutes.

The one-reactor reactor configuration of the classical supercritical process is replaced by two supercritical reactors operating in series due to the following disadvantages [10] Some disadvantages of the one-stage supercritical method are clear: It operates at very high pressures (25 (25-40 MPa). The high temperatures bring along proportionally high heating and cooling costs. set at 42) involve high costs for the evaporation of the untreated methanol. High methanol: oil ratios (usually

Panel Presentation: Energy Author: Prasad Ramesh Patil Institution: University of Liverpool


EWB-UK UK National Research & Education Conference 2011 Our Global Future 4th March 2011

The process as posed to date does not explain how to reduce free glycerol to less than 0.02% as established in the ASTM D6584 or other equivalent international standards.

In this sense washing cannot be eliminated because usual degly deglycerolization cerolization steps comprise intensive washing with water or washing/ultracentrifugation. One-step step continuous supercritical process requires large quantity of the solvent for the treatment of the feedstock as compared with the batch batch-type system. [11] The one-reactor reactor configuration of the classical supercritical process is replaced by two supercritical reactors operating in series An intermediate step of glycerol removal between the two reaction steps is implemented in order to allow the reaction to proceed d to completion with reasonably low methanol: oil ratios (6 (6-10), 10), lower temperatures (250-300C) (250 and lower pressures (2.5-5.0 5.0 MPa). The low methanol: oil ratio is expected to decrease the heat duty required for the evaporation of the untreated methanol. The lower pressure is expected to decrease costs of pumping and of robustness of the equipment. For the pumping power, this issue is critical because in continuous running applications, it costs more to operate a pump for one year than it does to buy the pump pump. . In some cases, a 20 percent reduction in operating costs can pay for the cost of a pump in a little over a year's time. Additional recovery of heat is introduced to decrease the total heat duty of the process. Supercritical reactors are used to preheat t the he reacting mixture and adiabatic flash drums downstream the reactors are used to evaporate the untreated methanol. [10] A removal of glycerol in biodiesel by means of adsorption in a packed bed, in this way the whole process would operate under anhydrous conditions and the issue of effluents and the water content of the glycerol by by-product can be reduced.

. Figure-2.3 Schematic Diagram Diagramtwo-Step Supercritical Methanol Process.Source: Shiro Saka


3. Biodiesel Production Methods Transesterification the process of converting vegetable oils or animal fat into biodiesel is relatively simple (compared to many other conversion technologies), is well known, and is readily available from a variety of technology providers. Numerous efforts continue to be invested ed to improve the process, increase yields (gallons of biodiesel produced vs. gallons of feedstocks used), improve pre-processing processing techniques, and reduce capital and operating costs. There are two basic types of conversion systems.

Batch Batch processing, in which feedstocks are processed in separate batches, are typically associated with smaller facilities (i.e., those with production capacities less than ~3,000,000 gallons per year). Batch operations may be more suitable for facilities targeting multiple feedstocks in that feedstocks would not be co co-mingled mingled but processed separately. [2]

Continuous Continuous processing, which are typically associated with larger facilities. Continuous operations tend to be more complex but more cost-effective. effective. Cheaper feedstocks like beef tallow and yellow grease can be used which directly reduce the cost of the production

Panel Presentation: Energy Author: Prasad Ramesh Patil Institution: University of Liverpool


EWB-UK UK National Research & Education Conference 2011 Our Global Future 4th March 2011

4. Feedstock It is extremely important to determine the type of feedstock to be used. This will determine the technology to be applied, and the alcohol, lcohol, sub products, and final product obtained. The quality of oil used to produce biodiesel affects several aspects of the production process. If recycled oil is used, then several additional steps are needed to ensure successful biodiesel production. First, irst, the oil must be filtered to remove any solid contaminants such as bone and other food particles. Second, the oils free fatty acid level and water content should be measured. The higher the cost of the feedstock, in general, the higher the production cost of biodiesel. There are two categories of raw material used for production of biodiesel:

Non-virgin oils, such as waste vegetable oil (WVO) from restaurants and rendered animal fats (RAF) from meat processing operations (e.g., fat from renderin rendering facilities). Virgin oil, such as oil from soybeans, cotton seed, or other oil oil-seed seed crops (e.g., rapeseed).

Non-virgin oil feedstocks: Waste grease from restaurants and fat from rendering facilities typically cost less than virgin oil feedstocks. However, Howe compared to virgin oil feedstocks, the quality of these materials can vary significantly. Such variations in feedstock quality qualit necessitate additional pre-processing processing prior to conversion of the material into biodiesel. In addition, these feed-stocks feed generally erally entail lower biodiesel yields (gallons of biodiesel per gallon of feedstock). The combination of the foregoing factors could offset some or all of the potential savings from purchase of non non-virgin virgin oil feedstocks. The primary sources of non-virgin feedstocks: eedstocks: Waste vegetable oil (yellow grease) from restaurants [13] Rendered animal fat.[14] Algae which can be grown using waste materials such as sewage and without displacing land currently used for food production.[15]

Multiple feedstocks: It is possible for a biodiesel facility to use multiple types of feedstocks. However, like any processing operation, the wider the range of feedstocks and the wider the range of feedstock quality, the more complex and costly will be the processing. Thus, a new biodiesel iodiesel facility targeting both virgin and non non-virgin virgin feedstock would have to include substantial prepre processing for the non-virgin virgin feedstocks in order to ensure the same level of quality of biodiesel products as that made from virgin feedstocks. It would seem more prudent for initial biodiesel production efforts to be feedstock-specific, feedstock i.e., a production facility targeting waste vegetable oil or rendered animal fat should focus exclusively on those feedstocks (and be located as close as possible to those e feedstock sources).

Virgin oil feedstock: Virgin oil can be made from a variety of oilseed crops, although extruded or extracted Jatropha Curcas oil has been the feedstock for biodiesel produced in India. However, almost all virgin oil is sold into edi edible ble oil markets. Thus, biodiesel production facilities targeting such feedstock have to compete with those existing markets for access to the vegetable oil (alternatively, new oil production supplies would be needed to meet the biodiesel demand). Moreover, biodiesel facilities have to contend with the substantial fluctuations in virgin oil prices. Feedstock yield efficiency per unit area Crop Rapeseed Soybean Jatropha Sunflower Coconut Palm oil Peanut Yield (l/ha) 954 554-922 540-680 767 2151 4752 842

Panel Presentation: Energy Author: Prasad Ramesh Patil Institution: University of Liverpool


EWB-UK UK National Research & Education Conference 2011 Our Global Future 4th March 2011

5. Production Capacity and cost analysis The first decision point for the design of a production unit is its capacity. For the purpose of the plant, i.e. whether it will w cover only domestic needs or exports or both, as well as according to feasib feasibility considerations The cost parameters of a biodiesel production plant can be split up into the annual biodiesel production costs and the investment costs. As investment costs can be characterized the capital costs for the purchasing of the production equipment, uipment, the land acquisition assets and the associated infrastructure labor costs. As annual biodiesel production costs can be characterized the production inputs/output costs and the maintenance and operation costs. The following cost analysis done base following consideration Plant capacity:-1000ton/year Production process: - Supercritical methanol process because of the following reasons Treats FFA and triglycerides No catalyst required Simple process and product separation Short reaction time

Production Method:-Continuous type. Methyl Ester Wash: - Dry wash which would save time, cost and water Biodiesel plant to be located in India

Cost of an oil extraction plant Operating costs: Total operating costs are estimated to amount to about 0.334 /litr /litre e of oil extracted. It is assumed that labour can be shared with the transesterification plant o or the other on-site operations

Item Jatropha Oil Methanol 5 Skilled workers 3 Un-skilled worker 5 Administrative & Production Managers Power KW/h Repair and maintenance. Insurance. Quality control & administration. Total operating costs. Operating cost /t (ester). Operating cost /litre itre (ester).

Annual Qty 1000 110

Cost 300000 25300 12860 3600 17145


25715 7,000 3000 8500 403120 403.12 0.33

Panel Presentation: Energy Author: Prasad Ramesh Patil Institution: University of Liverpool


EWB-UK UK National Research & Education Conference 2011 Our Global Future 4th March 2011

Cost of an oil extraction plant Capital costs: The total cost of a plant with a capacity of 1000 tonnes of oil per year is estimated at 464750().Total operating cost per litre is 0.38/litre Capital costs for a 1000 tonnes transesterification plant Items Equipment Equipment/installation Building, foundations. Transport. Total capital costs. Working capital (1/12 of total costs) Capital cost /litre (methyl ester) Cost 250000 170000 9000 429000 35750 0.38

The total operating and capital cost for the proposed 1000 tonnes oil extraction plant therefore comes to about 0.634 / litre of oil extracted Total Process cost (capital + operation cost) = 0.33+0.38 = 0.71 / litre

Total costs pha oil after assembly and cleaning is to be 300per tonne, with an ester yield of 87% and a glycerol The cost of Jatropha yield of 33%. On this basis, the total cost of bio bio-diesel diesel produced from vegetable oil as sole feedstock (excluding the cost of additives) is calculated as 0.61 /litre Feedstock Capital cost. Operating cost. Nett glycerol value Biod. cost ex works Unit /litre (ester) /litre (ester) /litre /litre (ester Cost 0.33 0.38 -0.10 0.61

7. Conclusion The work has led to some interesting results about the prospects of a 1,000 tons/year biodiesel production unit. One may state that the feasibility of the project depend on two main parameters: the raw materials cost and the biodiesel selling price diesel production from the cheapest available raw materials on a scale appropriate for a start-up start plant in The cost of bio-diesel India is from per litre of fuel 0.61 /litre. There can be further reduction in cost and viable if government provides subsidy. Raw material cost accounts for between 60 and 70% of the methyl est ester er production cost in the scenarios presented here. The remaining costs could be reduced by increasing the scale of the operation. Apart from raw materials, the other factors which are shown by analysis have a significant effect on production costs are the yield of ester recovered from the feed-stock stock oil, the capital cost of plant, costs of labour and energy required. The design and feasibility analysis of biodiesel production plant, is quite difficult to standardise the production cost and the total investment, ment, since it depends on feedstocks, the equipment items cost, land which are subject to price fluctuations.

Panel Presentation: Energy Author: Prasad Ramesh Patil Institution: University of Liverpool


Developpment of a biodiesel production plant by Prasad Ramesh Patil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

EWB-UK National Research & Education Conference 2011 Our Global Future 4th March 2011

First of all, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to my supervisor Dr Tim Short. Your enthusiasm, guidance and support have inspired me, throughout and I would like wish to thank my familymy parents, sister, and all of my friends for their enduring support, patience and understanding.

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Tom Bryan (2005) Dsol absorb it all, BIODIESEL MAGAZINE Mittelbach, M., Roncar, M. (1998). Method for the preparation of fatty acid alkyl esters Demirbas, A. (2003). Biodiesel fuels from vegetable oils via catalytic and non-catalytic supercritical alcohol transesterifications and other methods: a survey. Energy and Management

Srivastava, A., Prasad, R. (2000). Triglycerides-based diesel fuels. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 4, pp.111.
Madras, G., Kolluru, C., Kumar, R. 2004. Synthesis of biodiesel in supercritical fluids. Kusdiana, D., Saka, S.( 2001) . Kinetics of transesterification in ra rapeseed peseed oil to biodiesel as treated in supercritical methanol, pp 693-698

10) C.R. Vera .Production of biodiesel by a two-step supercritical reaction process with Adsorption refining,pp.2 4th Mercosur Congress on Process Systems Engineering 11) Shiro Saka(2006)Biodiesel Production Process by Supercritical Methanol Technologies The 2nd Joint International Conference on Sustainable Energy and Environment 12) Annett Pagan (2004) Establishing Biodiesel Production 13) Bunkyakiat, Kunchana; "Continuous Production of Biodiesel via Transesterification from Vegetable Oils in Supercritical Methanol". Energy and Fuel 14) Jeremy Goodfellow Animal Fat-Based Biodiesel biodieselmagazine. (online) Accessed [28.07.10] 15) PhD thesis on Algae production for bioenergy" Murdoch University, Western Australia 16) Y.C. Sharma (2009) Development of biodiesel: Current scenario, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 13 ,16461651 17) APPA: Associate producer of renewable energy (online) Accessed[16.07.10]

Panel Presentation: Energy Author: Prasad Ramesh Patil Institution: University of Liverpool