Traditional biodiesel production processes typically utilize feedstocks with Free Fatty Acid (“FFA”) content less than 1% because the presence of FFAs during the transesterification process will produce soaps and emulsions, which prevents the separation of methyl esters from glycerine. For this reason, traditional processes typically require a pre-treatment step to remove the FFAs in the feedstock. Once the FFAs have been removed from the triglycerides, they can then be mixed with methanol and sulphuric acid and converted to methyl esters through a process called acid esterification. However, traditional processes have considerable difficulties achieving high conversion yields and efficient processing rates for the FFA components. For this reason, many biodiesel producers use feedstocks such as seed oils, which have low FFA content, but which are often more costly than feedstocks such as animal fats, which have a higher FFA content.
In comparison, the patented BIOX production process converts both triglycerides and FFA in a two step, single phase, continuous process at atmospheric pressures and near-ambient temperatures, all in less than 90 minutes. Through the addition of a co-solvent, we convert first the FFAs and then the triglycerides into methyl esters without any pre-treatment step. Our process allows us to achieve feedstock conversion yields of greater than 99% even when using higher FFA feedstocks such as animal fats or crude palm oil. We recapture 99.9% of the co-solvent and excess methanol we use in our process, which is then recycled and reused. Our biodiesel meets the ASTM biodiesel specification.