Alternative Reaction/Extraction Media to Reduce Energy and Cost of Biodiesel Production
Worldwide fossil-fuel consumption is skyrocketing ¿ creating major social, political, economic, and environmental problems for the U.S. ¿ and once again revealing the urgent need to boost renewable energy sources, including biodiesel. However, key technical and economic challenges continue to make biodiesel fuel production too costly to compete with other liquid fuels, largely based on the cost of commonly-used feedstock materials and currently-used biodiesel production processes. This project will develop, validate, and commercialize a biodiesel production method that works when using ¿cheap¿ feedstocks. The new method will utilize supercritical carbon dioxide as an alternative medium in which the vegetable oil extraction step is linked with the transesterification reaction to achieve biodiesel production in a continuous, economical process. (In previous work, the benefit of using supercritical fluids was demonstrated separately for the two processes.) Phase I involved collecting experimental data and industrial systems modeling to demonstrate the advantages and of combining the two steps to save the energy costs associated with heating and pressurizing the supercritical fluid medium. Phase II will increase the scale of the process and establish the parameters necessary for successful Phase III commercialization. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: The combination of the extraction and reaction processes into a single, continuous flowing system for the production of biodiesel should provide significant savings in both energy inputs and production costs, and contribute to the DOE goal of reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil supplies.
Small Business Information at Submission:
401 Mountain View Avenue Longmont, CO 80501
Number of Employees: