An integrated supercritical fluid technology with power cogeneration to produce biodiesel fuels, with no need for the costly separations involved with the conventional technology, is proposed, documented for technical and economic feasibility, and preliminarily designed. The core of the integrated system consists of the transesterification of various triglyceride sources (e.g., vegetable oils and animal fats) with supercritical methanol/ethanol. Part of the reaction products can be combusted by a diesel power generator integrated in the system which, in turn, provides the power needed to pressurize the system and the heat of the exhaust gases necessary in the transesterification step. The latter energy demand can also be satisfied by a fired heater, especially for higher plant capacities. Different versions of this system can be implemented based on the main target of the technology: biodiesel production or diesel engine applications, including power generation. The process options considered for biodiesel fuel production estimate break-even processing costs of biodiesel as low as $0.26/gal ($0.07/L) with a diesel power generator and $0.35/gal ($0.09/L) with a fired heater for a plant capacity of 15,000 gal/day (56,775 L/day). Both are significantly lower than the current processing costs of approximately $0.51/gal ($0.13/L) of biodiesel produced by conventional catalytic methods. A retail cost of biodiesel produced by the proposed method is likely to be competitive with the prices of diesel fuels.
- Economic assessment
- Supercritical transesterification
- Technical analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Engineering
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Waste Management and Disposal