Biodiesel, new raw materials, problems grow.

Biodiesel para motores | John Deere AR

After the publication of the new RED II 2018/2001 renewables directive for the period 2021/2030, the change in biofuels is inexorable and unstoppable.

The requirements are increasing in percentage of incorporation, in individual reduction of emissions, use of materials with a low ILUC level, and incorporation of advanced raw materials.

By 2030 there will be very little biofuel produced from traditional crops.

The biofuel industry began its massive introduction in the 2000s. At that time, the available raw materials went through the use of first-use vegetable oils or cereal for the production of biodiesel or bioethanol. No other scenario was envisaged, and facilities to work with these raw materials were designed around the world.

All this will change over the next few years, where we will assist in deepening the use of raw materials with low ILUC, or those covered under Annex IX of the directive, which are called advanced raw materials.

During the last 10 years, production has only been carried out on the basis of recovered oils or category 1 and 2 fats, under the double counting system. Many of the plants designed to work with vegetable oils changed their process to be able to treat these materials.

For biodiesel based on recovered oils, pre-treatments were adapted to treat acidities up to 5% FFA, and a market for second-quality biodiesel was created, which traders mix with the vegetable. This is due to the fact that biodiesel made with 100% recovered oils does not meet the standard in some parameters. So, the second quality market was developed.

This market of this second quality was developed since initially the volumes of biodiesel of vegetable oils allow the mixture with those made with residual oils while maintaining the quality of the required standard.

But the new development of RED II requires a growing incorporation of these raw materials, which is why, in the medium or long term, this mixture will be increasingly complicated.

Although properly traced, these raw materials offer a significant reduction in GHG, are of a much lower quality than recovered oils, and infinitely lower than first-use vegetable oils. The main problems that we find in them are:

• Acidity

• Sulphur

• Unsaponifiable

Most plants have a chemical refinement. Chemical refining generates a reduction in pastes of two points of decrease for each point of acidity. The standard today for a recovered oil is 5% oleic acidity.

With 5% acidity, there is a 10% losses in soapstock. The oleins are recovered from these soapstocks with the splitting, usually using sulfuric acid, with the problem of acid waters, in addition to the presence of sulphur in the oleins obtained.

These oleins are reintroduced in the process by means of an acid esterification, where sulfuric is added again, which makes the sulphur grow. Remaining esterified oleins with an acidity of about 2-3%, which enter the raw material mixture again for chemical refining.

With an oil with 5% acidity, the sulfur level in the final biodiesel can go up to 20 ppm. If we start from advanced subjects with acidities higher than 5% the problem begins to be unmanageable.

On the other hand, the content in non-saponifiable material is very high in these materials, generating problems of colour, contamination and filterability in the final product.

We can offer you the best solution to treat oils with high acidity, without using sulfuric acid, without generating acidic water, and increasing the quality of your glycerine. At the same time, we can optimize your final biodiesel to a product of the highest quality.

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