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Process intensification: What's in your tank?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Adam Harvey


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At the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge, biodiesel production was worked on since 2001, and a continuous pilot plant consisting of a reactor and various downstream separation steps, which produces biodiesel of a saleable quality, were developed. A discussion covers the reasons to introduce certain sustainable fuels at present; the "biodiesel reaction", which is a transesterification, replacing the glycerol backbone of the vegetable oil triglyceride molecule with methyl groups, thereby splitting the molecule into four (three methyl esters (the biodiesel) and one glycerol); the EU directive (2003/30/EC), stating that 2% of all transport fuel should be biofuel by 2005, and 5.75 by 2010; process intensification, which allows "long" (typically meaning over 15 min) reactions to be performed in a reactor of relatively small length/diameter ratio; the mark II pilot plant, designed to further study and optimize a wide range of variables, including residence time, reactor length/ratio, operating pressure, operating temperature, methanol and catalyst ratios, and washwater ratio; and the economic viability of biodiesel production.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harvey A, Skelton B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Chemical Engineer

Year: 2004

Issue: 755

Pages: 27-29

Print publication date: 01/05/2004

ISSN (print): 0302-0797

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Institution of Chemical Engineers