The Characterization of Bimodal Droplet Size Distributions in the Ultrafiltration of Highly Concentrated Emulsions Applied to the Production of Biodiesel

The Characterization of Bimodal Droplet Size Distributions in the Ultrafiltration of Highly Concentrated Emulsions Applied to the Production of Biodiesel

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Title: The Characterization of Bimodal Droplet Size Distributions in the Ultrafiltration of Highly Concentrated Emulsions Applied to the Production of Biodiesel
Author: Falahati, Hamid
Abstract: A non-reactive model system comprising a highly concentrated and unstable oil-in-water emulsion was used to investigate the retention of oil by the membrane in producing biodiesel with a membrane reactor. Critical flux was identified using the relationship between the permeate flux and transmembrane pressure along with the separation efficiency of the membrane. It was shown that separation efficiencies above 99.5% could be obtained at all operating conditions up to the critical flux. It was observed that the concentration of oil in all collected permeate samples using the oil-water system was below 0.2 wt% when operating at a flux below the critical flux. Studies to date have been limited to the characterization of low concentrated emulsions below 15 vol.%. The average oil droplet size in highly concentrated emulsions was measured as 3200 nm employing direct light scattering (DLS) measurement methods. It was observed that the estimated cake layer thickness of 20 to 80 mm was larger than external diameter of the membrane tube i.e. 6 mm based on a large particle size. Settling of the concentrated emulsion permitted the detection of a smaller particle size distribution (30-100 nm) within the larger particles averaging 3200 nm. It was identified that DLS methods could not efficiently give the droplet size distribution of the oil in the emulsion since large particles interfered with the detection of smaller particles. The content of the smaller particles represented 1% of the total weight of oil at 30°C and 5% at 70°C. This was too low to be detected using DLS measurements but was sufficient to affect ultrafiltration. In order to study the critical flux in the presence of transesterification reaction and the effect of cross flow velocity on separation, various oils were transesterified in another membrane reactor providing higher cross flow velocity. higher cross flow velocity provides better separation by reducing materials deposition on the surface of the membrane due to higher shearing. The oils tested were canola, corn, sunflower and unrefined soy oils (Free Fatty Acids (FFA< 1%)), and waste cooking oil (FFA= 9%). The quality of all biodiesel samples was studied in terms of glycerine, mono-glyceride, di-glyceride and tri-glyceride concentrations. The composition of all biodiesel samples were in the range required by ASTM D6751 and EN 14214 standards. A critical flux based on operating pressure in the reactor was reached for waste cooking and pre-treated corn oils. It was identified that the reaction residence time in the reactor was an extremely important design parameter affecting the operating pressure in the reactor.
Date: 2010
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/19585
Supervisor: Tremblay, André Y.

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