Integration of Production and Purification Setups in a Microreactor for Biodiesel: Pros and Cons

Biodiesel production has been studied using various microreactors. Instead of having setups for biodiesel production and purification separately, the integration of both steps in one setup is likely to be more interesting. The integrated system is hypothesized to maximize the yield for commercial use. Waste edible oils can be converted into biodiesel by using a different catalyst. This is an ecofriendly approach and efficiently, products and unreacted reactants can be recovered simultaneously. For laboratory and industrial scale, integrated systems have developed for production and separation. However, integrated systems for small-scale are not yet ftilly elucidated for enzyme catalysis esterification reaction. As the cost of enzymes is high, process intensification of biocatalysis reaction for biodiesel production is essential. The ideal integrated system should consist of waste oil conversion, production of lipase, biodiesel production using lipase catalysis, recovery' catalyst, purification of biodiesel and removal of unreacted reactants (Klintlrong et al. 2015). Biodiesel production and purification shall take place in the integrated small-scale reactor setup. This integrated system is supposed to be used for lipase-assisted transesterification of edible or non-edible oils. The enzyme recovery is easier and can be used the same enzyme again in recycling for biodiesel production in this integrated system. Biodiesel will be characterized using analytical techniques after purification. Analytical instruments can be connected to the integrated system to accelerate the characterization of biodiesel during the production cycle. The major- advantages of these integrated systems are easiness to transport and operate, process economics can be optimized and building efficient systems for large-scale is possible only by understanding the mechanism at a smaller scale (Franjo et al. 2018).

However, there is a shift hi parameters and accuracy cannot be maintained when scaled up to the laboratory and industrial scale. The disadvantages of the small- scale integrated system are running at the lowest flow rate, higher pressure drop and residence time are shorter. Because of these factors, large-scale production is not achievable. Tins system can be adopted for small household, restaurant and farms. However, microchip production is still expensive and needs to come up with a cost-effective microchip manufacturing to make a sustainable integrated system for biodiesel production and purification (Mazubert et al. 2014). Mostly, waste cooking oil is used for biodiesel production. The separation of large particles from waster- cooking oil is inevitable to make the flow in the microreactor well. The removal of leftover food from cooking oil could increase the overall cost of the process. The enzyme lifetime needs to be prolonged to make the process economically viable (Miljic et al. 2020). The novel reactors’ development is essential, and residence time should be unproved for improved reaction rate. Enzymes are highly expensive. In order to make a cost-effective system, the crude enzyme can be used for biodiesel production. However, enzyme purity and loading will influence the transesterification process and result in poor production of biodiesel. The reaction should drive to maximize the esterification process to maximize the yield of methyl esters production, which depends on the molar ratio of alcohol to triglycerides. The connecting larger number of microchips in the integrated system would be an easy way for increasing the yield of biodiesel. The mobile integrated system can be arranged at the substrate and raw material production site. This system can be relocated easily. By this approach, transportation costs can be avoided. Sustainable technology for commercial use is not yet developed so far; however, the research on microreactors for biodiesel production is rapidly going on, especially for microalgal biodiesel production. The detailed investigations with novel reactors would definitely introduce the microreactors for laboratory and industrial-scale biodiesel production. Given the details of integrated systems on a smaller scale for biodiesel production with advantages and disadvantages, these systems can contribute to understanding the process efficiency and economics at the microlevel and in turn help design the reactor set up for larger-scale production.

Conclusions and Future Perspectives

This chapter critically discusses various steps of biodiesel production from microalgae. It includes microalgae cultivation, harvesting, transesterification of oils mto biodiesel, nanomaterials for immobilization and advances in the bioreactors for nanobiotechnology application for biodiesel production. The research studies proved that nanomaterials are highly potential for maximizing the biodiesel production. The green firnrre building concept is also discussed to provide the outline of significant improvement of algal technology and scale-up the process for biofuel production. Microreactors’ concept has to be investigated using biocatalysts. To date, significant research has been proved that microreactors enhanced the chemical conversion in small-scale. This microreactor concept would derive to develop an efficient biochemical conversion for biodiesel production.

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