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transesterification

FROM NATIVE OIL TO HIGH-TECH FUEL


Due to their molecular structure, vegetable oils are not suitable for use as fuel in conventional diesel engines. Vegetable and animal fats consist of triglycerides, that is, the combination of the trivalent alcohol glycerol with three fatty acids.


If the glycerol is replaced with methanol, the viscous vegetable oil is transformed into a fuel with excellent flow characteristics: Biodiesel.

And all it takes is a simple chemical reaction called transesterification, which involves mixing methanol with a small quantity of an alkaline catalyst. The most effective catalysts are sodium methylate in the form of a 30% solution in methanol (NM 30) and potassium methylate in the form of a 32% solution in methanol (KM 32), both from Evonik..

In addition to the main product, biodiesel, transesterification  also yields glycerol as a valuable by-product.

Requirements of the raw materials

Oils (triglyceride):

max. 1% ffa with use of NM30, preferably 0.1%

 

max. 3% ffa with use of KM32 or > 1%

 

max. 0.3% water preferably 0.1%

Methanol:

0.1% water