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Integrated Reactor and Centrifugal Separator

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryA more efficient reaction and separation process for reaction products was invented by ORNL researchers. This method is specifically applicable to the production of biodiesel through the esterification of organic oils and fats. DescriptionIn conventional biodiesel manufacturing, esters and glycerines are separated by allowing the products to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. This process is problematic for two reasons: the esterification depends on the extent to which the reactants are intimately mixed together, and the process requires multiple washing and separation steps.

The apparatus in this invention provides a continuous process for reacting and separating components while still providing enough reaction time for higher product yields. Triglycerides are combined with alcohol and a catalyst at an elevated temperature inside the reactor/separator. The design also reduces the need for large reaction vessels to combine and then separate products and by-products. Multiple devices may be used to purify the biodiesel product and to minimize production time.
  • Enables chemical reactions in which miscible or immiscible reactant solutions produce immiscible product solutions
  • Faster than conventional kinetically controlled mass transfer systems
  • Continuous, two-phase operation combines reaction and phase separation
  • Provides intensive multiphase mixing
  • Enables short residence time
  • Small footprint
Applications and Industries
  • Biodiesel production
  • Synthesis of methyl esters
  • Separation of biodiesel from immiscible glycerol by-products
  • Oxidation of organic precursors into intermediate compounds
More InformationLead Inventor
Joseph F. Birdwell, Jr.
Nuclear Science and Technology Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
UT-B IDs 200702012, 200701972DevelopmentAvailable10/20/201012/08/2010

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To: Eugene Cochran<>