Biodiesel is an ester of fatty acids produced from renewable resources such as virgin vegetable oil, animal fats and used cooking oil. It can be used as the sole fuel source (B100) in compression ignition (diesel) engines as a replacement for petroleum-based diesel or blended at levels of 2-20% (B2-B20) with minimal engine modifications.
Consumption of biodiesel in Europe has reached almost 2.1 million tons /yr (630 million gal/yr) in 2003. It is available at more than 1500 locations in Germany and used in more than 400 fleets in the United States.
EU Directive 2003/30/EC sets a target of 5.75% renewable fuels content by 2010. If the target is achieved the estimated production in Europe could reach over 7 million tons/yr (2.1 billion gallons/yr) of biodiesel. Recently passed tax incentives should encourage commercialization in the United States. Biodiesel consumption in the US could reach 1 to 2 billion gallons/yr (3-7million tons/yr) over the next decade.
Rationale for the growth of consumption of fuels from renewable resources includes:
- Improvement in energy security
- Reduction in Greenhouse gases (GHG)
- Reduction in particulates (PM), CO and sulfur emissions
- Improvement in local economy
- Rising costs of petroleum and natural gas
In this report, PEP examines the technologies and economics of two commercial processes for biodiesel production from refined vegetable oil (RVO). We review one of the first commercial continuous patented processes for the production of biodiesel, the Connemann_CD process. This process technology is based on Connemann_CD process patent, US 5,354,878, currently licensed to Westfalia Food Tec. We also review PEP's concept for the production of biodiesel by continuous alkaline-transesterification process modeled after the Lurgi PSI continuous transesterification and glycerin recovery process schemes as described in the open literature.
It will be of interest to producers and consumers of diesel fuel. This report will also be of interest to producers of oleochemicals as one part of glycerin is produced as a by-product for every 10 parts of biodiesel. Widespread production of biodiesel has the potential to flood the market with natural glycerin.