Table of Contents
What is Biodiesel?
Biodiesel is an organic, renewable alternative to conventional diesel fuel. It is environmentally friendly due to lower emissions and usable in current engines designed to operate on diesel fuel.
How is Biodiesel Produced?
The transesterification process converts organic fats and oils into biodiesel. In other words, transesterification is the process of converting fats into biodiesel and glycerin. Methanol and lye being the catalysts in the process. The fats are animal fat and/or used vegetable oil.
Industrial Centrifuge Applications in Biodiesel Production
The biodiesel production process uses industrial centrifuges in most of the production steps. The list below explains each step with the corresponding centrifuge application.
Biodiesel Glycerol Separation
Post reaction, it is essential to separate the two immiscible liquid phases (biodiesel and glycerol) to get pure biodiesel. It is critical to remove all traces of glycerol and any sediment to reduce the load on the next process step.
Industrial centrifuges are a proven way to separate the two liquids at this stage. Alfa Laval industrial centrifuges (disc-stack type) generate a high centrifugal force on the fluid. This force separates the glycerol from the biodiesel to produce ASTM grade biodiesel. Especially in cases where virgin vegetable oils are the feedstock.
Biodiesel Wash Water Separation
Biodiesel produced using WVO or animal fat needs a further step to remove any remaining impurities. A simple water wash polishes the biodiesel to ASTM purity level.
An industrial centrifuge is the best fit for the separation of wash water from biodiesel. High centrifugal force in the disc stack centrifuge separates the water from biodiesel. This is again a continuous, efficient process.
Advantages of a Centrifuge in Biodiesel Glycerol and Wash Water Separation
- A continuous process with least operating costs.
- Mechanical separation extracts the most amount of biodiesel.
- Simultaneous separation of fine sediment.
- Fast separation under the high centrifugal force.
- The automatic process saves labor costs
Biodiesel Final Polishing
Polishing the biodiesel removes fine particulate matter from the finished biodiesel. In the case of water wash, trace amounts of water may still be present in the biodiesel. This water is also removed from the biodiesel at this polishing stage.
Advantages of Industrial Centrifuge in Biodiesel Polishing
- Removal of small particles without filters (filters tend to plug up).
- Wash water removal to produce 100% clear biodiesel.
- Breaking emulsions (if any).
Distilling separated glycerol recovers the methanol and produces glycerin. Pure glycerin has good resale value and is demand in the food and cosmetics industries.
Clarification of glycerin to remove fine impurities makes it usable. A disc stack centrifuge has the required g-force to remove the finest trace particles from glycerin.
The advantages of using industrial centrifuges (listed above) are applicable for glycerin purification as well.
Technical Considerations for Biodiesel Centrifuges
Biodiesel production requires the use of methanol. This requirement in turn needs special manufacturing specifications. Biodiesel centrifuge systems manufactured by Dolphin Centrifuge have the following features. We refer to these features as the ‘Biodiesel Kit’.
- VITON seals in all fluid contact areas.
- Direct-drive (friction-less) design for hazardous area installation.
- Teflon covered collecting covers.
- Electrical design for hazardous areas. (Class 1 Div 2 or Div 1)
Contact Dolphin Centrifuge to discuss your biodiesel or other centrifuge application.