Distillation is a unit operation that is used throughout the Chemical Process Industries, including Oleochemicals, to upgrade the quality of many products, such as refined petroleum hydrocarbons, fatty acids, organic solvents such as alcohols, fatty acid esters, and biodiesel. As lower quality feed oils are used for the economical production of biodiesel, distillation of the crude methyl esters becomes essential to assure the quality of the finished biodiesel product.
The Superior Process Technologies engineering team has extensive experience with the design, installation, and operation of high temperature, high vacuum distillation systems.
The attached “distillation” photos show:
1) A typical vacuum (multi-stage) distillation tower used in the oleochemicals industry; this tower was installed at a major pine oil refinery in the southeastern United States; a vacuum distillation column for biodiesel would be smaller, less complex, and less costly than the one shown here.
2) Samples of un-distilled and distilled biodiesel produced from yellow grease; distillation clearly enhances the quality of the final biodiesel fuel. (Would you want to put an undistilled fuel in your diesel engine?)