New methanol reduction device now available

By Luke Geiver | January 19, 2011

A Florida-based biodiesel technology developer formed in 2006 has released a new product that can lower methanol requirements by up to 5 percent. Florida Biodiesel Inc., a company that works with both consumer and commercial biodiesel operators, has been developing the Cyclonic Mixer over the past year. “The Mixer is a device that is made to shear the catalyst and the feedstock,” said Bill Gehrs, president of Florida Biodiesel, “giving a more complete mixing, which is able to reduce the amount of methanol used.” The mixer, Gehrs said, can save the plant operator between 2 to 5 percent in methanol costs.

Described by Gehrs as a “passive” device, the mixer has been used in other consumer and commercial systems and the Florida Biodiesel version can be scaled to work in a 60 gallon system all the way up to a 2.3 MMgy facility. “It has no moving parts. The high shear mixer is encased in a pipe and when the feedstock and the catalyst are moved through the multi-veined system in the mixer,” Gehrs explained, “it creates a high shearing action,” that ultimately does a better job of mixing.

While Florida Biodiesel does not operate its own biodiesel production facility, the company still has a 187-dealer network that supplies other add-on pieces. The company has developed a safety external heat exchanger that heats up feedstock to the required temperature for transesterification, a methanol recovery system that Gehrs said recovers the pressurized methanol from the reactor tank itself making the B500 system, a commercial unit designed to produce 400-gallon batches of biodiesel every 60 minutes, a completely closed-loop system.

“In our own plants that we sell,” Gehrs said, “we’ve been able to reduce the amount of methanol used from the normal 20-plus percent to complete the reaction down to 18 percent.” As for those the Cyclonic Mixer would be best suited for outside of the normal customers Florida Biodiesel already serves, Gehrs said, “Any plant operator that would like to reduce their methanol expenses” would benefit.

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