Improved Processes Production of Lower Cloud Point Biodiesel

 

Introduction

 

Although the demand for biodiesel is rapidly growing internationally, production of the fuel has been plagued by quality related problems. This in turn has caused a lack of consumer confidence in biodiesel, compounded by continued competition with petroleum-based alternatives that are available at a better price point and higher quality. Although several measures of quality can be used a limiting factor is often the cold weather performance of biodiesel that is manifested as a "cloud point" and "pour point" temperature that is too high for the climate. This problem curtails viability of biodiesel as currently formulated to those areas where the cold weather is not a concern. A high cloud point temperature in biodiesel is typically observed because of the presence of glyceride impurities and the presence of only methyl esters of unsaturated and saturated fatty acids.

 

Description of Technology

 

This invention is a method for production of biodiesel fuel that enjoys a lower cloud point than conventional fatty acids or FAME (a mixture of methyl palmitate, methyl stearate, methyl oleate, methyl linolenate). FAME is used in this process as a starting point that undergoes transesterification with various alcohols in the presence of a solid catalyst. As an alternative FAME may be mixed with diethyl succinate and ethyl lactate esters. Importantly, the method avoids the use of a liquid base. The novel composition of mixed esters of fatty acids exhibits cloud points that are 5-7 degrees C lower than standard FAME, thus directly addressing problems that plague current biodiesel production processes.

 

Key Benefits

  • Improved Cloud Point Properties: Lowers cloud point 5-7 degrees C, decreasing the amount of additives that need to be added to prevent clouding in cold weather.
  • Improved Processing: Method utilizes solid acids facilitating processing.
  • Enhanced Conversion: Method converts residual triglycerides to alkyl esters of fatty acids.

 

Applications

 

This process could be used to produce biodiesel with a lower cloud point, addressing current production needs in the industry.

 

Patent Status

 

Patent pending

 

Inventors

 

Navinchandra Asthana, Dennis Miller, Carl Lira, Evan Bittner

 

Tech ID

 

TEC2007-0144

 

Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University
herlache@msu.edu