Schroeder launches Cold Clear Filtration system

By Nicholas Zeman | May 11, 2009
Posted May 18, 2009

Every biodiesel producer and distributor must pass the ASTM cold soak filtration test after Oct.1, 2009. Because many biodiesel fuel samples have failed cold soak filtration since its introduction into the fuel quality parameters, Schroeder Industries of Leetsdale, Penn., began to research the problems and develop a solution.

What resulted from Schroeder's work was the new Cold Clear filtration system said to bring off-spec biodiesel into compliance with ASTM guidelines and improve cold-flow operability. "We spent lots of time in the lab and ran a lot of fuel samples," said Jonathan Dugan, biofuels product manager for Schroeder Industries. "We checked sterol glucoside and monoglyceride levels among others, and determined it was no single component that caused biodiesel to fail cold soak filtration, but a variety of impurities. In fact, the system brings biodiesel into compliance without changing monoglyceride levels."

Schroeder tested fuel samples from producers throughout the biodiesel industry and created some of its own methyl esters in order to study the crystallization process said to precede the gelling of biodiesel. Because the company has a patent application to protect Cold Clear, Dugan couldn't tell Biodiesel Magazine what particular conclusions the company made regarding the relationship of impurities to methyl ester gelling, but could only speak in general terms.

"When you open up the chemical engineering book and start to study the crystallization phenomenon, you see that removing the 'seeds' of crystallization is how you stop the process," Dugan said. "We ran a lot of fuel and crunched a lot of numbers and found certain correlations in the data."

Cold Clear works by removing certain contaminants "that create higher than normal likelihood of surface crystallization" on filters which can cause break downs. The system is designed to be a single pass three-stage bank of filters and absorbers that sequentially remove those compounds likely to cause filter plugging, Schroeder stated. "I think it's the easiest equipment on the market to implement into the scheme of a biodiesel plant," Dugan said. "It's a simple housing with absorption cartridges that can be changed very easily, and there are no hazardous materials or chemicals involved."

Each three-stage housing compartment and cartridges can treat an estimated 15,000 gallons of B100 per complete change. The filtration housing is sized for five gallons per minute of flow, but is easily scaled for higher requirements that can accommodate the specific needs of individual plants.

Schroeder currently has a three day course scheduled for August in Pittsburgh, Penn., which will feature training for producers on fuel cleanliness and meeting the new ASTM cold soak requirements.
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