COMPARISON BETWEEN EXPERIMENTAL AND SIMULATED RESULTS OF BIODIESEL PRODUCTION BY REACTIVE DISTILLATION AND ENERGETIC ASSESSMENT

ABSTRACT Biodiesel appears to be a likely substitute to conventional diesel. However, the main challenge has been the creation of a competitive advantage for the biodiesel production process in terms of innovation and efficiency. The reactive distillation technique for biodiesel production is possibly a key force to overcome this technological issue because it combines chemical reaction and the separation process inside the same unit. This work presents kinetic data for biodiesel production via the ethylic route and compare them with the methylic one. It also compares experimental results in a 1.5m reactive distillation pilot plant with simulated ones in ASPEN PLUS for ethylic biodiesel production with a molar ratio 6/1 (alcohol/oil). Kinetic parameters obtained for the ethylic study were ko = 8173dm3/(mol.min) and Ea =27.48 kJ/mol. Indeed, at the bottom of a six stage column overall the ethylic and methylic biodiesel accounted for 60.1% and 67.8%, respectively. Following this, a sensitivity analysis considering 20 stages of equilibrium showed an ester conversion above 97%. The total energy required to produce biodiesel via a conventional batch reactor was 1210W/h for the ethylic route and 2430 W/h for methylic one, while it amounted to approximately 1000W/h for both routes in the reactive distillation process.