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Reactive Extraction for Biodiesel Production: Biorefining Aspects

 

Oil refineries, the entire petrochemical industry in fact, originally produced only transport fuel. Uses for various waste fractions and other by-products of the crude oil gradually developed over time.

 

Biorefining may well develop in a similar way – on the back of the biofuel industry. At Newcastle we have developed a process called “reactive extraction” in which oilseeds are contacted directly with the alcohol and catalyst necessary to convert the lipids within the seed to biodiesel (the alkyl ester of the lipids). This is advantageous as it reduces the number of steps in the process, thereby reducing the capital cost of the process. The process is quite different from conventional biodiesel production, particularly in that the effective “solvent”, methanol, is polar (rather than non-polar, as hexane the conventional solvent is), so will extract a range of different compounds. What effect does this have on the process as a whole, in terms of its use as a biorefinery?

 

The aim of this PhD is to determine the destination and form of the various chemicals in the oilseeds, to determine whether each fraction could be part of a biorefinery based on this process. This would involve determining the process mass balances as a function of operating conditions, and will be largely laboratory-based, and assessing the various chemicals produced (and whole streams e.g. meal as animal feed) as co-products of biodiesel production.

 

For more details, please contact Prof Adam Harvey or Dr Jon Lee.

 

 

 

 Last modified: 02-Jun-2017