Petroleo Brasileiro has been granted a patent for a process to produce biodiesel using bifunctional heterogeneous acidic catalysts from acidic raw materials. The process involves integrating esterification, physical refining, and transesterification steps, using fixed bed and continuous stirred tank reactors, and recycling methanol-rich stream. GlobalData’s report on Petroleo Brasileiro gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Petroleo Brasileiro, Microscale biofuel reactors was a key innovation area identified from patents. Petroleo Brasileiro's grant share as of September 2023 was 41%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Process for producing biodiesel from acidic raw materials

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Petroleo Brasileiro SA

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11767481B2) describes a process for producing biodiesel from acidic raw materials. The process involves several key steps and integration points to optimize the production of biodiesel.

The first key aspect of the process is the use of acidic raw materials and triglycerides in the biodiesel production process. This allows for the utilization of a wider range of feedstocks, including those with high levels of acidity.

The process also integrates the esterification step, which converts the acidic raw materials into esters, with the treatment of oils and fats through physical refining and transesterification. This integration improves the overall efficiency of the biodiesel production process.

Three integration points are utilized in the process: at the inlet of the first transesterification reactor, at the inlet of the second transesterification reactor, and at the inlet of the washing process of the transesterification product. These integration points help optimize the reaction conditions and improve the quality of the biodiesel produced.

The esterification step is carried out using a fixed bed reactor with a heterogeneous catalyst. This allows for efficient conversion of the acidic raw materials into esters.

The transesterification reaction system consists of three continuous stirred tank reactors in series. This setup ensures thorough mixing and reaction between the raw materials and methanol, resulting in high-quality biodiesel.

The glycerin produced during the process is sent to a rectifying tower, while the methyl ester (biodiesel) is dried and rectified to produce the final biodiesel product. The methanol-rich stream is rectified for recycling, further enhancing the sustainability of the process.

The raw materials used in the process consist of free fatty acids with 85% to 90% mass/mass and triglycerides with 10 to 15% mass/mass. This composition allows for the efficient conversion of both the fatty acids and triglycerides into biodiesel.

The esterification reaction is carried out at a temperature of 150 to 230°C, pressure of 10 to 25 bar (1 to 2.5 MPa), space velocity of 0.18 to 0.45 h-1, and a methanol/raw material molar ratio ranging from 3.0 to 9.0.

The transesterification reaction is carried out at a temperature of 55 to 65°C, pressure of 1 to 3 bar (0.1 to 0.3 MPa), contact time of 60 to 120 minutes, and a methanol/raw material molar ratio ranging from 2.0 to 3.0.

Overall, this patented process offers an efficient and integrated approach to producing biodiesel from acidic raw materials, allowing for the utilization of a wider range of feedstocks and improving the sustainability of biodiesel production.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.