Douglas Pratt Community Member 1 Post
Re: Process Improvement: Fast Separation of Biodiesel and Glycerol10 June 2009 at 1:29pm
Biodiesel catalysts are not my specialty area. However, I did dig up a few references on the Internet.
The first is: http://www.degussa4biodiesel.com/index.php?url=Catalysts&pid=_8_14&lng=en where they are using sodium and/or potassium methylate (a salt of methanol) in a methanol solution. The discussions I've seen indicate that the process is relatively straight forward where, on a commercial scale, solid products, such as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, and solutions, such as sodium methylate in methanol, are both used as catalysts. They are neutralized with acids when the reaction is over.
From what I've read so far, it seems that the challenge is in oil purification for the feed and the removal of water and free fatty acids. That may be a more economical step.
There is an article (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070708193929.htm) indicating a new catalyst that may be broad based and help eliminate the pretreatment step.
Finally, this article (http://bioenergy.checkbiotech.org/news/catalyst_biodiesel_production) contains some hints that researchers are considering silica gels as partial catalysts, but the challenge is to coat the silica with the right ions so that it will be able to catalyze the jatropha oils.
Sorry, but I don't have direct experience in this area. Good luck.