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Comparison of membrane extraction with traditional extraction methods for biodiesel production


Three traditional methods for the refining step in biodiesel production were compared: (i) washing with distilled water; (ii) washing with acid (HCl); and (3) dissolving and extracting in a solvent (hexane or petroleum ether) and then washing with distilled water. Biodiesel with a high purity (97.5%) could be obtained by all three methods, but serious emulsification occurred during the refining processes, which led to high refining losses. A novel refining method was developed by using hollow fiber membrane extraction, and polysulfone was selected as the most suitable membrane. This process effectively avoided emulsification during refining and decreased the refining loss. The purity of the biodiesel obtained was about 99%; and other properties, such as density, kinematic viscosity, water content, and acid value, conformed to the standards.

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Correspondence to S. L. Zhu.

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He, H.Y., Guo, X. & Zhu, S.L. Comparison of membrane extraction with traditional extraction methods for biodiesel production. J Amer Oil Chem Soc 83, 457–460 (2006).

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Key Words

  • Biodiesel
  • hollow fiber extraction
  • production refining
  • transesterification