Methanol Recovery Systems

Methanol Recovery Systems

Methanol Recovery SystemsMost biodiesel in the USA is made by reacting vegetable (Soy) oils with methanol in the presence of a catalyst by a chemical process known as transesterification. This reaction process forms two products: methyl ester (which is the bio-diesel) and glycerol. An excess amount (20-100% more methanol than actually required for reaction) of methanol ensures the reaction is complete. Either decanting or centrifuging can separate these two products. Moreover, the excess (un-reacted) methanol is divided between the two products: approximately 40% with the biodiesel, and 60% with the glycerol.

Flash Evaporation Systems for the Biodiesel Industry

Biodiesel water washing removes the total amount of methanol from biodiesel making this generally a lower equipment cost method of extraction. However, the separation of methanol from the resulting methanol-water mix becomes expensive.

Distillation of methanol from biodiesel operates in a single column. However, for this the column is relatively complex in design, control and operation, and more expensive.

Removal of the final amounts of methanol to the lower level ASTM requirements is more complex. In order to do this, Wintek’s Flash Tower systems for methanol extraction and recovery includes several unit operations (flash vacuum evaporation being one) to assure that removal comes down to or below your target level. They operate continuously  and typically at a lower cost than distillation columns. Furthermore, it should be easy for operators to understand and control. Our systems are provided complete with flash towers (1, 2, or 3-stage), vacuum condensers, transfer pumps, flow meters, rugged process vacuum pump systems and PLC control panel.  The number of stages of flash towers, and final cost, is dependent upon:

  • The amount of excess methanol in the biodiesel (or glycerol)
  • The residual methanol concentration allowed in the product
  • Utilities available (heating and cooling)
  • And materials of construction.

Wintek’s designs are highly reliable, simple to operate and control, low maintenance, and also cost effective.  Each Methanol Recovery System is custom designed to meet the customer’s requirements.

  • 99+% Methanol Recovery (of excess methanol)
  • High Reliability
  • Easy to understand
  • Easy to operate and control
  • Low maintenance