The Continuous High-Shear Cavitational Reactor is a totally enclosed processing system that utilizes hydrodynamic cavitation in conjunction with high-shear mixing to instantaneously react liquids in a continuous fluid stream. The cavitation reaction occurs at ambient temperature, so there is no need to preheat incoming fluids.
The Piedmont Biofuels Cavitator is offered in three scaled models:
- Skid-mounted modular design (4 x 6 footprint)
- 2 explosion proof feed pumps allow you to draw directly from your feedstock storage tanks. Inputs for vegetable oil and/or animal fats and greases and methyl alcohol, premixed with either caustic catalyst or liquid methylate catalyst are provided.
- Control panel with manual control switches and emergency push button override
- Stainless steel proportioning manifold with fully manual override
- Stainless steel digital turbine flow meters with digital pulse output to meter oil and methyl alcohol inputs.
- Stainless steel cavitational reaction chamber with high-shear pre-mix chamber
- Acid-compatible feed pump for esterification capabilities
- Suitable for Class I Division II explosive environments
- Plug-and-play installation with flanged pipe connections for input and outlet flow
Available Options Include:
- Liquid methylate catalyst metering input with stainless steel digital magnetic flow meter with digital output and localized display. Explosion proof stainless steel feed pump.
- Fully automated control and monitoring of process parameters utilizing programmable logic controls and touch-screen HMI interface. All systems can be monitored remotely utilizing a password-protected network access.
- Coriolis flow meters, with automatic adjustment for density and purity and automated calibration
What is Cavitation?
Cavitation describes the formation, growth, and implosive collapse of gas or vapor-filled bubbles in a liquid. The rapid collapse of vapor bubbles is a violent process that creates highly localized, large amplitude shock waves. These shock waves generate intense microstreaming, which in turn can accelerate chemical reactions such as the reaction of oil and alcohol. The continuous high-shear cavitational reactor works to greatly increase the speed and efficiency of the Biodiesel reaction through this intense localized heat and violent mixing. Within this cavitational reaction paradigm, oil, alcohol, and catalyst are precisely metered into the reactor at room temperature. The resultant reaction produces a high quality and high conversion biodiesel within seconds.
The cavitation process promotes efficient mass transfer and thorough mixing that can enhance the rates of chemical reactions, such as the reaction of triglyceride and methyl alcohol during transesterification. One of the main drivers of this reaction rate increase is the disruption of the liquid-liquid phase boundary, which activates emulsification. This mechanism, as applied to the Piedmont Biofuels system, will greatly increase the rate of transesterification when compared to traditional batch processing systems.
The speed and efficiency of the transesterification reaction directly correlate to finished fuel quality by limiting competing side reactions and pushing the transesterification reaction towards the methyl ester side of the equilibrium equation. Competing side reactions such as the hydrolysis of triglycerides and subsequent saponification of fatty acid chains occur at a much slower rate than transesterification. If allowed to proceed, these side reactions will impact methyl ester yield, downstream purification, and completeness of conversion- yielding mono- and di-glyceride contaminates. The last two of these problems will directly result in a lower finished fuel quality, effecting the qualification under the ASTM standard. More specifically, this will impact the quality standards of ASTM D6584 (Total Glycerin), ASTM D664 (Acid Number), and EN 14538 (Sodium/Potassium). By promoting increased speed and efficiency of the transesterification reaction, hydrodynamic cavitation in the Piedmont Biofuels Cavitator Reactor acts to limit these side reactions and the formation of contaminates that effect fuel quality.
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