Biodiesel Purification

Thin-film processing enables continuous purification of biodiesel and glycerin

Artisan has developed unique thermal separation processes using our thin film technology for the pre– and post–reaction steps in the biodiesel manufacturing process.

Biodiesel is one of the most common alternative fuels on the market today. Artisan’s thin/wiped-film technology is ideally suited to purify biodiesel from its chemical by-products downstream of the esterification and/or transesterification reactions. Using Artisan’s biodiesel purification process eliminates the need for a separate glycerin purification process.

Use Artisan’s patented continuous biodiesel purification process (U.S. Patent No.7,528,272 ) to produce water-white biodiesel and technical grade glycerin. After removing solvent and water from crude biodiesel, we co–distill methyl ester and glycerin from the salts and heavies.

Solvent Removal and Recovery

In the first stage of the process our Rototherm® Evaporator is used to remove solvent and water from methyl ester, salts, and glycerin. Our process recovers 99.9% of the solvent for recycle back to the reactor. If necessary the solvent and water removed in this step can be vapor fed directly to a distillation column to purify and dehydrate the solvent.

Methyl Ester and Glycerin Co–Distillation

In the second step, a Rototherm is operated at low absolute pressure to vaporize the glycerol and methyl esters plus any remaining traces of light ends. The vapor from the Rototherm flows out through a Vapor/Liquid Separator to knock back any entrained liquid and enters a special large void–space low–pressure drop condenser using tower water as coolant, where the methyl esters and glycerin condense. The residual solvent and water vapor flow through a direct contact (barometric) condenser to a shared vacuum system, which uses sprays of cool recirculating methyl esters to minimize the loss of ME and glycerin to the vacuum system. The condensed methyl esters and glycerin flow to further processing downstream to separate the phases and remove any remaining free glycerin from the fuel.