Phase Transitions in a Biodiesel Reactor using Supercritical Methanol
P. HEGEL; G. MABE; S. PEREDA; E.A. BRIGNOLE
INDUSTRIAL & ENGINEERING CHEMICAL RESEARCH
Año: 2007 vol. 46 p. 6360 - 6365
Recent experimental studies on noncatalytic transesterification have shown that high reaction rates, which justify the commercial application of this process, can be obtained if the operating conditions are above the critical pressure and temperature of methanol. Although it is generally agreed that temperatures of >550 K and high methanol/oil ratios are required to obtain high conversions and high reaction rates, there is disagreement in the literature regarding the operating pressure, the assumed phase conditions, the use of co-solvents, and the justification of the sudden increase of rate of reaction with temperature. In the present work, the reactor phase transitions are directly observed in a double-windowed cylindrical reactor and the conversion to methyl esters is measured. From direct observations and the modeling of the phase behavior, a better understanding of the supercritical methanol transesterification process is obtained.