Investigation of phospholipid separation from soybean oil for biodiesel production

Date
2007-01-01
Authors
Kekre, Naveen
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Jon H. Van Gerpen
Adin Mann
Brent Shanks
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Mechanical Engineering
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Mechanical Engineering
Abstract

In the United States, as per ASTM standards, pure biodiesel (B100) is considered to be an alternative fuel under the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Biodiesel refers to a diesel-equivalent, processed fuel derived from biological sources (such as vegetable oils), which can be used in unmodified diesel-engine vehicles. In recent years, biodiesel fuels have received significant attention both as a possible renewable alternative fuel and as an additive to existing petroleum-based fuels. Besides just an additional fuel supply, biodiesel exhibits several advantages when compared to existing petroleum fuel.;The state of Iowa and Iowa State University through the Iowa Energy Center sponsors research regarding alternate energy and efficiency. The Iowa Energy Centers' Biomass Energy Conversion (BECON) facility in Nevada, Iowa houses the state's most innovative and collaborative biomass conversion projects for developing new fuels and chemicals from biomass and enhancing existing processes. The biodiesel pilot plant at BECON is one of such projects. The pilot plant evolved slowly from producing biodiesel at a laboratory scale with fats and oils to pilot scale production in batches. Efforts were made to make this a continuous process starting from preparing feedstock to final production of biodiesel. The work represented by this thesis was undertaken in order to get one step closer to the goal of making a continuous process.;Crude soybean oil contains impurities that can be classified into two categories: oil insoluble and oil soluble. The oil insoluble impurities consists of seed fragments and meal fines, free water and long chain hydrocarbons or waxes. Most of these materials can be removed by filtration. The oil-soluble materials include free fatty acids, phosphatides, gummy or mucilaginous substances and some other compounds. Phosphatides in soybean oil are most commonly referred to as 'gums'. Currently, at BECON the soybean oil produced from the soybean processing plant was stored in a tank and the gums (mainly phosphatides) were removed by gravity separation by settling in the tank and through filtering. Gravity separation takes a long time to remove the gums and it is not very efficient in removing gums because some can not be removed. Therefore, a process capable of separating gums in real time to match with the speed of soybean oil production was needed at the pilot plant. Centrifugal separation of gums is fast and is widely used in the food processing industry. Therefore, centrifugal degumming was chosen and a degumming system was put in place as a tool to demonstrate its use for the biodiesel industry. This thesis will describe the system and main process parameters, which can be varied to get optimum results. Because of time constraint, verifying the effects of all the process parameters on the degumming of oil was beyond the scope of this project. However a system has been developed and its performance is demonstrated here.

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