In recent years, biodegradable and alternative biodiesel has attracted increased attention worldwide. Producing biodiesel from biomass involves critical separation and purification technology. Conventional technologies such as gravitational settling, decantation, filtration, water washing, acid washing, organic solvent washing and absorbent applications are inefficient, less cost effective and environmentally less friendly. In this study supercritical carbon dioxide (SC-CO2) with few steps and a low environmental impact, was used for biodiesel fractionation from impure fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) solution mixes. The method is suitable for application in a variety of biodiesel production processes requiring subsequent stages of purification. The fractionation and purification was carried out using continuous SC-CO2 fractionation equipment, consisting of three columns filled with stainless steel fragments. A 41.85% FAME content solution mix was used as the raw material in this study. Variables were a temperature range of 40–70 °C, pressure range of 10–30 MPa, SC-CO2 flow rate range of 7–21 mL/min and a retention time range of 30–90 min. The Taguchi method was used to identify optimal operating conditions. The results show that a separated FAME content of 99.94% was verified by GC-FID under optimal fractionation conditions, which are a temperature of 40 °C of, a pressure level of 30MPa and a flow rate of 7 mL/min of SC-CO2 for a retention time of 90 min.
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering