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Biodisel Based on Vegetable Oil Esters


Development of New Technology and Equipment for Production of BIODIESEL (Vegetable Oil Esters)

Tech Area / Field

  • CHE-IND/Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Process Engineering/Chemistry

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Visser H

Leading Institute
State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology, Russia, Moscow


  • University of Ottawa, Canada, ON, Ottawa

Project summary

Last years many countries livened up the work on organization of Biodiesel production – pollution-free motor fuel.

The process is based on chemical transesterification reaction of triglycerides (the main component of vegetable oils). According to this reaction glycerol is substituted with methanol and methyl esters of fatty acids having detonating ability close to cetane are formed.

The existing technologies for Biodiesel production have a number of specific disadvantages the main of which is connected with applying an alkaline catalyst on the stage of Biodiesel synthesis. The use of alkaline catalyst

  • requires high-quality raw materials (by free fatty acid content and necessity of their refining) and makes necessary water washing; hampers the separation of layers due to formation of surfactants (soap); in this case the cost of high-quality raw materials defines the cost of the end product;
  • demands a long period of Biodisel synthesis (up to 8 hours) what results in use of bulky reactors (for batch processes) or a cascade of column reactors and separators (for continuous processes), a great deal of auxiliary stages and equipment; all this results in increasing personnel and equipment amortization costs etc.

Preliminary experiments conducted by the Project participants have shown that all the aforesaid disadvantages may be eliminated by use of acid catalyst in Biodisel synthesis as the most efficient one for this type of chemical reactions.

The Purpose of the Project is development of a new technology for biodiesel production with use of acid catalyst in column type apparatus with countercurrent operation mode and preparation of recommendations for industrial realization.

A possibility to lower a cost value of the process owing to the use of crude vegetable oil (with high concentration of fatty acids) and to simplify a hardware implementation makes the investigations on development of the process for biodiesel production with use of acid catalysts very actual.

Technical Approach. Based on long experience of GosNIIOKhT specialists in the field of R&D of the combined reaction and mass-transfer processes the preliminary experiments in order to demonstrate a possibility of such organization of this trasesterification process with use of acid catalyst have been carried out.

The process was conducted in a column reactor. The main purpose was to demonstrate a possibility to intensify transesterification process using acid catalysts and methanol surplus.

In a column reactor (continuous process) the conversion of oil was higher than 95 % at the temperature of 180-200 oC and residence time of 15 min.

There was quick and clear separation of reaction mass into ester and glycerol layers in all experiments. Commercial product was analyzed by gas chromatography (Hewlett Packard GC with mass-selective detector).

The results have confirmed the presence of six methyl esters of saturated or unsaturated acids in the reaction mass as well as absence of other impurities.

The proposed research program consists of six tasks.

Task 1. Analysis of scientific literature related to the Project problems and more accurate definition of investigations directions.
Task 2. Creation of special laboratory installations for investigation of the transesterification process of vegetable oils with use of acid catalysts at atmospheric pressure and for biodiesel purification and yield.
Task 3. Development of the methodology of the experiments to be performed, procedures for analytical control and assimilation of the procedures for biodiesel samples testing.
Task 4. Investigations of kinetics of the transesterification process, determination of physicochemical properties of intermediate mixtures and the end product, and development of a mathematical model of the process with the purpose to estimate its optimal parameters.
Task 5. Study of the biodiesel production process in laboratory conditions using various vegetable oils and different hardware implementation.
Task 6. Selection of the equipment necessary for biodiesel production process for industrial scale installation and determination of optimal process parameters.

Expected Results and Meeting the ISTC Goals. During implementation of the Project the following results will be obtained:

  1. The transesterification process of various vegetable oils with methanol in presence of acid catalyst at atmospheric pressure will be developed, including:
  • catalysts for the process will be selected;
  • kinetics of the process will be studied;
  • hardware implementation of the process will be developed allowing to conduct the process in a continuous counterflow mode at high local (i.e. directly in a reaction zone) surplus of methyl alcohol provided by circulation of methanol; such realization of the process will allow to intensify it essentially and to shorten (in an ideal case to exclude completely) the water washing and the methanol stripping stages;
  • mathematical model of the process will be developed;
  • optimal process parameters will be determined.

2. Based on the analysis of the results to be obtained, the most effective realization of the process will be determined and the recommendations on organization of the process in industrial scale will be prepared.

Implementation of the given Project will allow redirecting high-qualified specialists of GosNIIOKhT to the work connected with development of market economy in the country and with development of new ecologically sound technologies. All the above stated meet the ISTC goals.

It is planned a participation in the Project of foreign collaborators – specialists in the field of separation processes and reaction-mass-transfer processes. The detailed and concrete participation of collaborators will be defined before signing the Agreement on the Project.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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