A system for continuous transesterification of vegetable oil using supercritical methanol was developed using a tube reactor. Increasing the proportion of methanol, reaction pressure and reaction temperature can enhance the production yield effectively. However, side reactions of unsaturated fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) occur when the reaction temperature is over 300 °C, which lead to much loss of material. There is also a critical value of residence time at high reaction temperature, and the production yield will decrease if the residence time surpasses this value. The optimal reaction condition under constant reaction temperature process is: 40:1 of the molar ratio of alcohol to oil, 25 min of residence time, 35 MPa and 310 °C. However, the maximum production yield can only be 77% in the optimal reaction condition of constant reaction temperature process because of the loss caused by the side reactions of unsaturated FAME at high reaction temperature. To solve this problem, we proposed a new technology: gradual heating that can effectively reduce the loss caused by the side reactions of unsaturated FAME at high reaction temperature. With the new reaction technology, the methyl esters yield can be more than 96%.
Fuel – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2007
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