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Technologies

Transesterification for Biodiesel Conversion by SRS

This technology is using homogenous base catalytic transesterification. Following the


chart above, alcohol, the basic catalyst and the oil are mixed in a reactor and stirred
for an hour at 60 deg C. Its a two steps reaction which during the first one, it is added
80% alcohol and the catalyst in the oil; second. The reactor output stream is led to the
removal glycerin and then entering the remaining 20% of alcohol to react.
After the reaction, glycerol is separated from the methyl ester using
precipitating tank because of low solubility of glycerol esters. The amount of
methanol that has not reacted, acts as a solvent and delaying the separation. However,
excess methanol is maintained in the stream because direct reaction of
transesterification of product can achieve higher conversion. After the completion of
transesterification, water is added to the mixture to facilitate glycerol separation.
Then right after the glycerol separation, mixture is neutralized by using acid
and then separated from impurities using vacuum distillation before washing with
water. The salts together with remaining catalyst, soap methanol and free glycerol are
removed during washing. Water left is then distilled off under vacuum.
Free fatty acids are not soluble in glycerol and separated at the top of the
mixture (upper layer) which can be removed and recycled. These fatty acids can be
esterified and thus used as a biodiesel feedstock in the input stream of
transesterification reaction. Even then, salts are still present within glycerol. When

potassium hydroxide is used as a catalyst and phosphoric acid as a reagent for the
neutralization reaction, then phosphates are produced and these can be used as
fertilizer. After acidification and removal of free fatty acids, methanol impurities are
also removed via an extraction process through vacuum or through another type
evaporator. After that glycerol produced has an 85% approximate purity, which allows
it to be sold in a glycerol refining plant. There, by further distillation under vacuum or
an ion exchange process, its purity can be increased from 99.5 to 99.7%.
Methanol, which is removed from the methyl ester and glycerol streams will "collect"
the water produced during the process, since it is fully water miscible. This methanolwater stream should be directed to a distillation column before methanol is led back
into the process. This stage is more difficult if the alcohol used is ethanol or
isopropanol, due to the azeotropic mixture which is created with water. In this case a
molecular sieve is required so as to remove water.

THE ESTERFIP-H PROCESS by Axens

This Esterfip-H process contains two fixed-bed reactors with a catalyst of zinc and
aluminium oxide. By using a heterogenous catalyst, which form salt with catalyst,
emulsion between the methyl ester and glycerol phases and phase separation
complexity will be reduced or removed.
Following the PFD, the pressure after reaction is released in two steps by partial
evaporation. The boiling temperature of each component reduced. Methanol will be
removed from the stream and preheat the inlet methanol stream to reactor. Methyl
Ester will be separated from glycerol in decanter by difference in density
The reaction will happen in 210 deg C and at 62 bar supported by catalyst with a
volume of 70% off volume of reactor

Comparison
Esterfip-H process
High biodiesel yield, 100%
High glycerol and biodiesel purity
No soap formation
Heterogenous process
No need for catalyst recovery and washing step, no hazardous acid/base chemicals
High temperature and pressure 210 deg C and 26 bar
High MeOH/oil ratio
Continuous technology based on solid catalyst
Biodiesel Transesterification Technology
High biodiesel yield, 99.8%
High glycerol and biodiesel purity with purification process
Salt and aqueous waste produced
Homogenous process
Require complex purification and separation steps
Mild condition of T (60 deg C)
High flexibility in feedstock
Required methanol to prevent forming of azeotrope