Producing Biodiesel in a Critical Fluid Medium
Contact: David R. Anderson
Phone: (208) 526-0837
E-mail: Send E-mail
Use of biodiesel in the United States has increased significantly in the last few years. As of May 2004 there were more than 400 major fleets using biodiesel, including all branches of the US military, Yellowstone National Park, NASA, several state departments of transportation, major public utility fleets such as Florida Power & Light, cities such as Berkeley, California, and more than 50 school districts. More than 1000 petroleum distributors make biodiesel available to farmers and other consumers, and more than 200 retail pumps now make the fuel available to the public. Studies have shown that if every diesel vehicle on the road today used five percent biodiesel, the United States would displace the equivalent of 1.7 billion gallons of foreign oil. INL researchers, who have been active in the area of heterogeneous catalysis in alternative solvent systems, applied advanced engineering and process chemistry principles to biodiesel synthesis and conceptualized a process specifically targeted towards processing food industry oil and fat byproducts. The biodiesel synthesis process is based on a continuous, heterogeneous catalytic reaction, which uses a solid catalyst that is not solubilized into the reaction medium.