291481 The Effect of Ordered Lattice Structure On Catalysis of Biodiesel Production in Microreactors

Monday, October 29, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Ben Kegley, Chemical Engineering, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN

In this study, microreactors are used to make fatty acid methyl esters (biodiesel). Microreactors have many advantages over traditional reaction systems due to scale. Benefits include an increase in product purity and a reduction of processing time from hours to seconds. Microfluidic channel size is 50 µm by 500 µm with length of 3 to 15 cm. The channels are coated with a metal base catalyst, Nickel (II) Oxide. This metal catalyst converts a wide variety of vegetable oils to biodiesel. Also, typical feedstock impurities, such as free fatty acids, are successfully converted to biodiesel. Variations in temperature, feedstock composition, and the multiphase nature of the feedstock are also being investigated.

Microreactors, in this study, have already successfully produced levels of conversion equivalent to stirred tank systems while reducing hours of processing time to minutes. Currently, such design improvements as increased catalyst surface coverage and the introduction of ordered lattice structures are being employed in order to reduce processing time to seconds. Additionally, adding free fatty acid to the SBO/methanol feed, thus reducing processing fluid to a single phase, should speed up global rates.

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