Biodiesel Fuel Production Level
Biodiesel fuel production commonly involves the transesterification of the vegetable oil or animal fat feedstock. There are a number of methods for carrying out this reaction which may consist of the common batch process, ultrasonic methods, supercritical processes, and even microwave methods. Read on to know more on the production of biodiesel fuels.
If we analyze chemically, the transesterified biodiesel is a mixture of mono-alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids. Methanol, converted to sodium methoxide, is most commonly used to make methyl esters, which are usually referred to as Fatty Acid Methyl Ester – FAME. This is the cheapest alcohol available. This process removes the glycerin from the vegetable oil or fat and the byproducts left behind include methyl esters and glycerin. Biodiesel fule is free from such substances as sulfur and aromatics which are found in traditional fuels.
At the cost of a less competent transesterification reaction, alcohols of higher molecular weights are used which improves the cold flow properties of the resulting ester. For producing biodiesel fuel, a lipid transesterification production procedure is used to convert the base oil to the desired esters. Any free fatty acids in the base oil are either chncged to soap or removed from the process. They may also be esterified using an acidic catalyst which produces biodiesel fuel in better yield.
At this stage of biodiesel fuel production, biodiesel attains combustion properties which are very similar to those of petroleum diesel. The production of biodiesel fuel
has led to an increase in its capacity which is growing rapidly. The average annual growth rate was over 40% in the paste few years.
The latest year for which real figures for making biodiesel fuel could be obtained was for 2006, where the total world biodiesel fuel production level was about 5-6 million tones. Of this 4.9 million tonnes of the biodiesel was processed in Europe and most of the rest from the USA. 2008 has seen production of biodiesel fuel rising to 7.8 million tonnes in Europe alone which further increased to 16 million tonnes.