Design and simulation of high purity biodiesel reactive distillation process

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Biodiesel is a promising energy substitute of fossil fuels since it is produced from renewable and biodegradable sources. In the present work, reactive distillation (RD) process is designed and simulated using Aspen Plus process simulator to produce biodiesel of high purity through esterification reaction. The simultaneous reaction and separation in same unit enhances the biodiesel yield and composition in RD process. Two flowsheets are proposed in present work. In the first flowsheet, the unreacted methanol is recycled back to reactive distillation column. Biodiesel with 99.5 mol% purity is obtained in product stream while the byproduct stream comprises 95.2 mol% water, which has to be treated further. In the second flowsheet, a part of methanol recycle is split and purged. In this case, the biodiesel composition in product stream is 99.7 mol% whereas water composition is 99.9 mol% in byproduct stream, which can be reused for other process without treatment.

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