Biodiesel production plants can range from small to Industrial sized operations. No matter what size operation, they all need to have certain equipment to create biodiesel. They must have separate holding tanks for raw materials (oils, or fats), methanol or ethanol alcohol (reactant), and catalyst chemical. The catalyst material is used to speed the chemical reaction. The most common catalyst chemicals used are sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, and sodium methoxide. They are heated and pumped to the reactor which combines the three materials to create the biodiesel. Pumps and flow meters ensure the right quantities from each tank enter the reactor for mixing. After mixing in the reactor takes place, the crude biodiesel is pumped away into separation columns and settling tanks. Excess water and glycerin byproduct from the chemical reaction in the mixer are filtered out and stored in separate tanks. This is done with a series of pumps and sensors. As the crude biodiesel settles in the tank, the glycerin and water sink and separate from the true biodiesel. From here the true biodiesel is taken to be further purified. Excess alcohol is removed along with any mechanical debris, before it is ready for use. Once the final filtering stage is complete, the biodiesel is ready for the consumer and can be packaged in barrels or shipped out in tanker trucks.
This is a schematic of a typical Biodiesel Plant Design . This diagram outlines the steps taken within the production plant to create biodiesel.
Biodiesel Plant Design Layout