While the United States continues a policy of generally ignoring CO2 emissions from the transportation, throughout the EU (European Union) there is an increasing emphasis upon the use of sustainable biofuels.
The European Commission has taken the position that biofuels need to be sustainable, rather than just renewable. The entire production chain of the biofuel must be analyzed to validate a claim of emissions cuts.
In applying a “seed to wheel” analysis, the European Commission has excluded soybean to biodiesel. So, while Big Farm decries such analysis, there are efforts to improve emissions cuts.
This blog previously reported on the Saka method. Now Green Car Congress reports on another very similar process, whereby an alcohol and a lipid are combined by high pressure pumps. Similar to the Saka method, the Mcgyan process uses vegetable oil or tallow to form the lipid stream and the mix flows into a CFB (Circulating Fluidized Bed) reactor operating at elevated temperature and pressure.
In the Mcgyan process, the reactor is filled with a sulfated metal oxide catalyst where the transesterification and esterification reactions simultaneously.
The output contains excess alcohol and biodiesel fuel. The fuel is then distilled to recover the excess alcohol and other co-products, and the biodiesel is polished to remove residual free fatty acids, which can be recovered and put back into the input side of the system.
And, while the Saka method uses super-critical methanol, the Mcgyan process has worked successfully with methanol, ethanol, or propanol. According to the inventors, the Mcgyan process has the following benefits:
Flexible feedstock; animal or plant sources of lipids can be used. Current waste products can be turned into fuel.
No use of strong acids or bases in the process.
Fast reaction times (seconds).
Cheap feedstocks such as waste grease and animal tallow as well as a variety of plant oils can be converted to biodiesel.
The metal oxide based catalyst is a contained in a fixed bed reactor thereby eliminating the current need to continuously add catalyst to the reaction mixture thereby reducing the amount of waste produced.
Unwanted side reactions with free fatty acids producing soaps are eliminated, thereby reducing the amount of waste that must be disposed of properly.
Insensitive to free fatty acid and water content of the feedstocks.
The catalyst does not poison over time.
GCC commentator jc777 is skeptical, “They seem to over state the simplicity [of the process]. The fact is that there still are additional processing and purification steps.”
Furthermore, “there are at least 5 other solid catalyst biodiesel processes (e.g., NCL out of India) and there are other continuous biodiesel processes, too.”
“They even claim that the catalyst never gets poisoned, which seems unlikely if you use any feedstock.”