267942 Design of Transesterification Processes

Wednesday, October 31, 2012: 10:10 AM
323 (Convention Center )
Cory Silva1, Leonard Fabiano1 and Warren D. Seider2, (1)Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, (2)Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DESIGN OF TRANSESTERIFICATION PROCESSES


Cory Silva,  Leonard A. Fabiano, and Warren D. Seider

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6393



Biofuels, derived from organic oils, have received considerable attention during the last decade;

however, most of the research effort has concentrated upon bench-scale experiments, with little or no

attention given to the large-scale industrial applications of the various conversion methods. Despite the

numerous techniques available,1,2current process research has focused mainly upon the use of aqueous

alkaline catalysts3, with some attention being given to non-catalytic, supercritical transesterification4. The

narrow focus is likely due to the scarcity of kinetic data, which is almost nonexistent for non-aqueous


In this paper, an algae-oil transesterification process is presented, using a proprietary solid-acid

catalyst. Kinetic parameters are regressed from bench-scale experimental data for oil harvested from

Nanochloropsis Salina algae. The process model is simulated using ASPEN PLUS, and is then heat

integrated to reduce the consumption of utilities. The equipment is sized and costed using ASPEN’s

Process Economic Evaluator to establish an overall project cost. Finally, our model and costs are

compared with previous studies for algae-derived oils5 and vegetable oils3to assess the viability of a

process using heterogeneous catalysis.


1.   Vyas A. P., Verma J.L., Subrahmanyam N., 2010. A review on FAME production processes,

Fuel, 89, 1–9.

2.  Demirbas A., 2008. Comparison of transesterification methods for production of biodiesel from

vegetable oils and fats, Energy Conversion and Management, 49, 125–130. 

3.   Chang A., Liu Y.A., 2010. Integrated process modeling and product design of biodiesel

manufacturing, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 49, 1197-1213.

4.   van Kasteren J.M.N., Nisworo A.P., 2007. A process model to estimate the cost of industrial scale

biodiesel production from waste cooking oil by supercritical transesterification, Conservation and

Recycling, 50, 442–458.

5.   Pokoo-Aikins G., Nadim A., El-Halwagi M.M., Mahalec V., 2010. Design and analysis of

biodiesel production from algae grown through carbon sequestration, Clean Techn. Environ.

Policy, 12, 239-254.

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