Document Type : Full length
Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Qom, Qom, Iran
Department of Agricultural Engineering, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran
A continuous process was designed and optimized at a conceptual stage for the biodiesel production from waste vegetable oils. Unlike previous studies, the process was optimized taking into account the technical and economic considerations, simultaneously, to find the optimum operating conditions fort he commercial scale productions. The effect of major variables on the yield of the process was studied by modeling esterification and transesterification reactors. The mole fraction of free fatty acids (FFAs) in the feedstock, production rate, conversion and molar ratio of the reactants in both reactors were chosen as major variables. By considering the economic potential as the objective function of the process optimization, the optimum mole fraction of FFA was obtained as about 0.50 (24 wt %). Also, the optimum values of the conversion and molar ratio of the reactants in the esterification and transesterification reactors were found as 82-89 % (depending on the different production rates), 11:1 and 96 %, 8:1 respectively. It was found that the economic potential increases linearly as the production rate increases. Therefore, the production rate should be set at its maximum possible practical value. The break-even point at the optimum values of these variables, as mentioned above, occurs at the production rate of 157 ton/yr.
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