Production of Biodiesel using Expanded Gas Solvents
Related Patents: 7,514,575
Contact: David R. Anderson
Phone: (208) 526-0837
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The standard biodiesel production process reacts to methanol or ethanol with vegetable oil or fats in the presence of a catalyst. The two liquid reactants are immiscible and the reaction rate is limited by the rate of mass-transfer between the two immiscible phases. In addition to the main reaction limitations, the reaction products must be separated. This is traditionally done by gravity separation, which is slow and, in some cases, incomplete. INL researchers have developed a gas expanded solvent process that expands the alcohol phase and changes its properties from polar to non-polar. This process can be used on existing biodiesel production process based on homogeneous catalysts or on developing solid catalyst processes. The technology has been tested at bench scale and will require additional development for use in commercial applications.