Heterogeneous Catalyst Reactor Technology Produces High-Quality Biodiesel with No Aqueous Waste Stream; Lower Capital and Operating Costs
|Yellow Diesel’s heterogeneous catalysis process. Click to enlarge.|
A spin-off from the University of Amsterdam (UvA), Yellow Diesel B.V., is commercializing a reactor technology based on heterogeneous catalysis for the production of high-quality biodiesel plus a cosmetics/food grade glycerol, with practically no waste streams. The biodiesel specifications are better than required by the European norm EN14214.
The Yellow Diesel process eliminates all the aqueous waste streams that stem from using the conventional homogeneous acid/base catalyst technology. Due to the novel catalyst and integrated process design, the process saves up to 40% of the capital costs and 30% of the operating costs compared to a conventional plant, according to the company.
|Yellow Diesel Biodiesel Specs (Rapeseed oil feedstock)|
|Density at 15 °C||0.8740||0.860 - 0.900|
|Flash point||>120 °C||>120 °C|
|Analysis by independent laboratory NofaLab.|
Yellow Diesel has produced the biodiesel in its continuous micro plant, and is now scaling up the process to pilot-scale. This process can be adjusted to various types of feedstock, including low-quality oils, waste oils and fats.
Conventional biodiesel processes use homogeneous catalysts, such as sulphuric acid, sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxides or alkali methoxides, with the concomitant requirements of neutralization, washing, separation and recovery operations. It also results in salt waste streams, with ecological and economical penalties.
Yellow Diesel uses only heterogeneous (solid) acid/base catalysts. This eliminates the salt waste streams, and simplifies the downstream processing.
The solid acid catalyst is used in the esterification of free fatty acids, while the solid base catalyses the main transesterification step of the triglycerides. Yellow Diesel notes that this approach is particularly suitable for treating waste oil feedstocks, including triglycerides with up to 90% free fatty acids (FFA), such as frying oils, animal tallow, tall oil from paper manufacturing and various types of organic waste.
A typical process design of the chemical reaction section may include a fixed bed reactor, a reactive distillation column (the integration of chemical reaction with distillation in one unit), or a combination of both. Yellow Diesel develops optimized process alternatives for its clients, matching the characteristics of raw materials and the required product specifications.
In January, Yellow Diesel, the University of Amsterdam and Solarix BV received a €1 million subsidy for developing new biofuels from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, as part of the EOS KTO program (short term energy research).
Yellow Diesel B.V. is a spin-off company of the UvA Holding B.V., the holding company of the University of Amsterdam.