Biodiesel has been produced on an industrial scale in the European Union since 1992. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced from vegetable oils such as rape seed oil, sunflower seed oil, soybean oil and also used frying oils (UFO) or animal fats. And even so the production of biodiesel is a complex process indeed, the glycerin that is being distilled during the production process can be used for both technical and pharmaceutical applications.
BIO DIESEL: VARIOUS PRODUCTION METHODS
There are three basic methods to biodiesel production:
- Base catalysed transesterification of the oil;
- Acid catalysed transesterification of the oil;
- Conversion of the oil to its fatty acids and then to biodiesel.
Most of the biodiesel produced today is done with the base catalysed reaction. This catalyst being used splits the oil into glycerine and biodiesel. The glycerin produced at this stage is crude glycerin and is about 80% pure, but still contains contaminants like soap, methanol and water. In order to turn this crude glycerin into technical or pharmaceutical grade product, a or refining purification process must take place.