The conventional process for biodiesel production by transesterification is still expensive due to a need of high excess of alcohol required and its recovery by distillation. The use of a reactive distillation process can reduce the amount of alcohol in the feed stream as it works on a simultaneous reaction and separation. In the present study, a mathematical model has been developed for biodiesel production from triglycerides in a reactive distillation column, which has been validated with the reported data and CHEMCAD results. The effects of process parameters such as methanol to oil feed ratio, feed temperature, and reaction time have been investigated. The sensitivity analysis shows that yield of ester increases with methanol to oil ratio and number of stages, however, it decreases with fl ow rate. The MATLAB simulated results show that methanol to oil molar ratio of 5:1 produces 90% (by wt.) of methyl ester in a residence time of 4.7 minutes.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.