Biodiesel, much like the commonly known diesel fuel, is a renewable source of energy, extracted from vegetative sources such as microalgae and coconuts instead of petroleum and even animal fats etc. Although biodiesel can occur naturally under specific circumstances, these circumstances are rare and take years. A biodiesel reactor, much like its name; shortens the time span for biodiesel formation under suitable conditions by speeding up the overall reaction.
Plant-based feedstock is the main raw material for biodiesel. Feedstock such as microalgae, coconuts and virgin vegetable oils. The biodiesel reactor basically causes a certain chemical reaction known as trans-esterification in which the feedstock is processed and separated into glycerin and methyl esters.
Glycerin is basically a byproduct of the process accumulated from the fat content inside the reactor. Glycerin is normally used in the production of soaps moisturizers etc. It is naturally present in the human body as well and works closely to the body fat.
Methyl ester is the chemical name for biodiesel itself. At this stage the biodiesel is refined further to create other biofuels, mixed with petroleum diesel to create a diesel blend that offers both sustainability and usability in cold temperatures, or is used immediately without the blend or extra processing.
Types of Biodiesel Reactor
1. Ultrasonic Biodiesel Reactor
An ultrasonic biodiesel reactor uses ultrasonic waves to make the biodiesel feedstock bubble. The bubbles tend to rise and collapse because of the ultrasonic waves, causing a reaction from heat and pressure that leads to trans-esterification. An ultrasonic biodiesel reactor is normally used largely for commercial purposes to produce biodiesel in vast quantities. Modern ultrasonic reactors require don’t require manual labor as such.
2. Shear Biodiesel Reactor
A shear biodiesel reactor is used in small laboratories to produce small amounts of biodiesel for testing. While it can also be ramped up for commercial use, theres no harm in using it domestically. These units use heat and reduce the droplet size of the biodiesel feedstock to again cause trans-esterification. Depending on the quantity, this process usually takes around 4 to 5 hours. Unlike the ultrasonic reactors, these do require some sort of manual labor. The shear t units tend to be extremely versatile and can work under different settings and yield demands. Moreover, these units happen to work better with solid feedstock than the ultrasonic biodiesel reactor units do.
Both work under certain different conditions but the overall product and its quality remains the same. The only difference is the quantity and the areas in which the two reactors are preferred. The demand for biodiesel will tend to increase as time progresses and natural fossil-fuels get further depleted. Biodiesel is one of the main substitutes that scientists look forward to in the coming years or so