Biodiesel & Renewable Fuel Production: How Mineral Filter Aids Play A Critical Role

Renewable BiodieselBiodiesel and renewable diesel are alternative fuel sources that can be used as a replacement for conventional petroleum-based fuel. Feedstock choices include pure vegetable oil, animal oil, animal fats, and waste oils. In order to be used as fuel, the oils need to be converted to biodiesel in a process called transesterification. Environmentalists are excited about the possible benefits of this natural fuel option.

The Importance of Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Filtration

In the mid-2000s, many of the biofuels sold did not meet quality specifications. The Vehicle Technologies Office partnered with the National Biodiesel Board to improve specifications and ways to manage standards. The problem was that solids found in biodiesel oils clogged fuel filters and stopped the flow of fuel to the engine. Now there are standards for filtering these products.

Why Filter?

Engineered minerals like Diatomaceous Earth, Perlite, and Cellulose play a critical role in removing unwanted containments to prevent clogging of the refueling pump filter and help to create a cleaner fuel source.

Filtration Methods

Oil can be filtered in different ways, depending on the clarity you desire for the final product and the ease of use versus productivity you require. Some common methods include:

  • Settling
  • Bag filters
  • Cartridge filters
  • Leaf filters
  • Vertical or horizontal pressure filters
  • Filter presses

Feedstock Flexibility

Dicalite’s multi-mineral platform is feedstock agnostic. No matter the feedstock source (corn, soy, canola, used cooking oil, coconut, peanut, tallow, sunflower, palm, rapeseed, olive algae, etc.), diatomaceous earth and perlite filter aids will remove the necessary contaminant.

The Bleaching Phase in Biodiesel and Renewable Fuel Processing

There are many steps in the physical refining process for biodiesel production, including extracting, degumming, bleaching, and deodorizing. During the bleaching phase, the oil is filtered through a diatomaceous earth or perlite filter media to remove potential peroxides, peroxide former, and residual impurities.

Diatomaceous Earth Can Continue to Contribute to the Environment after Filtration

Innovative companies and technologies utilize a pretreatment system featuring a pressure filter with diatomaceous earth to filter out impurities from highly degraded feedstock. After the oil is filtered through and the DE captures the poly materials, a dry filter cake is left behind. Rather than throwing it away, environmentally conscious companies seek to reposition the material, now a byproduct, to be repurposed after use and converted to a soil amendment or fertilizer.

Mineral Filter Aids for Cleaner Burning Fuels

To see why diatomaceous earth and perlite are great filtration media, you’d have to view it through a microscope. Diatoms have a wide variety of shapes and a honeycomb-like structure. The pores within and between the cell walls are so small, they trap bacteria, clay particles, some viruses, and other suspended solids from liquids, leaving liquids cleaner and with drastically reduced solids and contaminant levels. DMG’s superior mineral filter aids are lightweight, chemically inert, and form high porosity filter cakes to maintain a free flow of the liquid. The structure of the particles must be such that they will not pack too closely. This not only permits high initial liquid flow but also provides pore spaces to trap and contain the filterable solids and leave a high percentage of channels remaining open for flow. Perlite filter aids more accessible and feature very similar benefits to DE. Dicalite’s perlite filter aids are also natural and chemically inert, so no tastes, colors, or odors are transferred to your process. Perlite filter aids are crystalline silica free, and are less dense than traditional mineral filter aids. Perlite filter aids weigh as much as 50% less than other types of filter media, enabling greater costs savings for the same amount of volume. Other features and benefits of DE and perlite include:

  • High Porosity. The pores within and between the cell walls are so small, they trap bacteria, clay particles, some viruses, and other suspended solids from liquids, leaving liquids cleaner and with drastically reduced solids and contaminant levels.
  • High Flow Rate. Diatomaceous earth and perlite filter cakes extend the flow rate of the material being filtered and
    prevents clogging.
  • Longer Filter Cycles. The high solids holding capacity of diatomaceous earth allows for much longer filter cycles (allowing more solids to be removed) than what would be possible with other filtration methods.

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