A continuous-flow bubble column reactor for biodiesel production by non-catalytic transesterification
ABSTRACT A continuous-flow bubble column reactor for biodiesel production by non-catalytic transesterification of triglycerides has been developed. The principle of a bubble column reactor for transesterification is similar to reactive distillation, where the reaction products in the gas phase are continuously removed from the reactive zone, while oil, as the reactant, is retained in the reactive zone (liquid phase). A dedicated laboratory-scale continuous-flow bubble column reactor, with a predetermined 200 mL liquid volume of palm oil in the reactor, has been used for this study. In this study, the effects of the methanol feed flow rates (1.5, 3.0, and 6.0 mL/min) and reaction temperatures (250, 270, and 290 °C) on the biodiesel productivity and methyl esters content in the biodiesel product were evaluated. The biodiesel productivity increased with MeOH feed flow rate and reaction temperature correspondingly. On the other hand, the purity of the methyl ester in the biodiesel product decreased.