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September 22, 2020
How Ultrasonics Help Improve Biodiesel Process Efficiencies

How Ultrasonics Help Improve Biodiesel Process Efficiencies

MTS Sensors

Making biodiesel nowadays is not simply about producing renewable fuel. For biodiesel operators, it is a real challenge to produce high-quality forms of biodiesel that have consistent characteristics. This is why Bill Babler from First Capitol Risk Management said, “In the current environment, only the least-cost producers are able to produce fuel at positive margins.”

If you’re looking for an upgrade in your biodiesel facility then you need to look into ultrasonic mixing technology. These devices are proven to increase yields of biodiesel which results in lower operational costs. This also includes entrepreneurs working on 1 mmgy or even biodiesel plants working on 45 mmgy.
Let’s have a look at how this will be made possible.

Reaction Kinetics Shrink Profits

Making biodiesel from ethanol (or methanol), oil and a catalyst is actually quite a simple chemical process. The problem, however, lies in the kinetics of the chemical reaction. This is because the conventional transesterification to fatty methyl esters from triglycerides is slow and not really complete.
During this process of conversion, not all of the fatty acid chains tend to turn into biodiesel or alkyl esters. As a result, the biodiesel yield and quality is significantly reduced.

Better Mixing Will Lead to Better Output

The longer conversion times and inferior yields of biodiesel can easily be attributed as a large part of using inappropriate mixing systems. As a principle, methanol and oil are immiscible. This is exactly why you will need to form the methanol-in-oil emulsion.

In order to do this, you will need equipment for emulsification instead of conventional stirrers and mixers. That said, ultrasonic cavitational mixers are easily the most advanced means to make fine-sized emulsion on a larger processing scale.

Less Excess Methanol

Excess methanol tends to not react during conversion processes. This is added to tend to the kinetics of the chemical reaction and is needed to be recovered at the very end of the process. This recovered methanol is always of inferior qualities and hence their recovery simply increases the processing cost.

With the help of ultrasonic reactors, the required levels of excess methanol are reduced by as much as 60%. For most feedstock here, a molar ratio of 1:4.5 or 1:4 is quite sufficient.

Raw Material Savings

Many biodiesel operators – particularly the mid-size or small community level ones, tend to reduce the cost because they switch to raw materials of poorer qualities. Examples of these raw materials include waste oils, recycled restaurant oils and animal fats.

With the help of an ultrasonic process, the conversion results for any kind of feedstock can be improved. This also helps operators in making high viscosity grease or fat, high FFA oils, EN 14212 European Compliant biodiesel and ASTM 6751.

Less Catalyst

Catalyst prices only represent marginal fractions of the costs of biodiesel production. As was seen in the case of excess methanol, these costs are a result of recoveries and inferior forms of glycerin. Ultrasonic mixing can help improve the emulsification of methanol-in-oil while generating smaller droplets.

As a result of this, you will be able to experience increased efficiency with your catalysts and better distribution. In addition to this, ultrasonic cavitation also tends to improve the mass-transfer resulting in 50% of the catalyst being saved.

Electric Energy and Heating

We already know that we are producing green fuel. Therefore, if we wish to produce this green fuel, the growing, harvesting procession here should be lower as opposed to the energy contained by biodiesel.

Enter Ultrasonic mixers. With the help of these, the energy required for processing can be lowered. These devices can process approximately 22 gallons of biodiesel with just 0.1 Whr of electricity. This is equivalent to using a 100 watts light bulb for around an hour!

With the help of ultrasonic mixing technologies in your production process, every biodiesel operator will be able to produce at less wastage of resources and hence fewer costs. As a result, they will definitely experience maximized profits.

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