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How The BioPro™ 150 Automated Biodiesel Processor Works

The BioPro™ 150, through a chemical process converts organic oils into an alternative to diesel fuel called Biodiesel. The common name for the process is called an acid/base catalyzation. It's just a fancy word meaning that the oil is chemically altered to allow it to run in an unmodified diesel engine.

What's unique about the BioPro™ 150 is that the majority of this process is done by the machine with very little user interaction. Instead of having to turn valves, meter in chemicals, and carefully monitor the machine, Simply pour everything in, press a button and walk away.

Before starting the process, the user simply fills the machine with 40 gallons of filtered, dewatered oil. The oil can be any organic oil (tallow, fats, vegetable oil, etc), but in most cases, waste vegetable oil is the most commonly used feedstock to make biodiesel with due to it's wide availability.

BioPro™: How it Works

1. Fill machine with oil.

2. Fill machine with pretermined amount of methanol.

3. Press Start

4. Wait 8 minutes while methanol is pumped out of checmical tank into main reaction vessel.

5. Add catalyst and a second dose of methanol to tank. 

 
 

How does the machine convert the the feedstock oil into ASTM grade biodiesel?

REACTION 1 - ESTERIFICATION the "Acid" stage

During this stage, the machine mixes sulfuric acid and a portion of the methanol into the oil. The sulfuric acid modifies the free fatty acids so that the methanol can attach to them and create biodiesel.

Over the course of a few hours a lot of heating and mixing will occur to make sure that the acid and the methanol have had a chance to do their job. This is because a thorough Acid stage helps to make the Base stage successful.

REACTION 2 - TRANSESTERIFICATION the "Base" stage

In this stage the machine mixes in the Base catalyst and the rest of the methanol. During this stage, the catalyst (Sodium Hydroxide - NaOH) or Caustic Potash (Potassium Hydroxide - KOH) begins breaking the molecules apart into glycerol and fatty acid chains. As the molecules are broken apart the methanol begins to attach to the fatty acid chains. This causes the free glycerol molecules to drop out into a mixture called glycerin.

This stage takes several hours to occur. While this stage is happening the machine is mixing the oil, chemicals, and methanol together with an extremely powerful, tri-blade impeller. This helps to really mix things together and helps ensure that all of the oil has a chance to be chemically altered.

SETTLING PERIOD Glycerin Drop Out

After both reactions have occured, the oil is allowed to settle for a period of time. This allows the glycerin to fall to the bottom of the tank and separate away from the freshly made biodiesel. The settling can take several hours and helps to ensure that everything settles out properly.

MID POINT - DRAIN GLYCERIN

At this point, the user comes back to the machine and drains out the settled glycerin and begins the washing cycle.

WASHING BEGINS

During this process, the machine will turn on the heat and lightly spray a mist of clean fresh water into the biodiesel. As the water falls, excess methanol and soap molecules attach to the water and fall with it, thereby cleansing the biodiesel. After the first mist wash, the water is then drained out manually and another mist wash is performed, only this time the big tri-blade mixing impeller comes on mixing the water and the biodiesel together. We call it an "agitated wash cycle". This wash pulls most of impurities out of the biodiesel.

The machine then settles for a few hours. The user comes back to drain off the water and continue with another agitated mist wash. The machine performs this last wash cycle with the massive tri-blade impeller going in full force. Once it's done the water settles to the bottom and is automatically pumped out by the machine.

DRYING BEGINS

 The combination of the heat and the mixing help to evaporte any excess water from the freshly washed biodiesel. After the heat & mixing is done the BioPro allows the biodiesel to settle out one last time. During the heated biodiesel evaporates off any excess water. When the process is complete, you're left with a clear, clean tank of biodiesel that is ready to use!

How's that for automation!

If you'd like to learn more about how the machine works or just have a general question for us about it, feel free to contact us.