• Research resultsLiquid fuels based on the vegetable oils and animal fats for the transportation and energy sector

    Liquid fuels based on the vegetable oils and animal fats for the transportation and energy sector

    Project phase

    The project is outgoing from the situation in the field of biofuels in Slovakia and the state and issues on the global and European level. The EU documents (the White book of the Commission “European transportation policy up to 2010. Time to decide”, Directive 2003/30/EC)

    • call for a reduction of dependence on the oil (98 % currently) at the transportation sector by using alternative fuels like biofuels, at the expected increase of CO2 emissions by 50 % in 2010 if compared to 1990, due to road transportation with 84 % emissions of CO2
    • remind that the pure vegetable oil raw or refined but chemically unmodified could find its use as biofuel in special cases where its use is compatible with the type of respective engine and with respective emission requirements
    • emphasize that the support of production and use of biofuels should contribute to the reduction of dependence on the energy import and greenhouse gas emissions; in addition, biofuels, in pure form or as a blend, may in principle be used in existing motor vehicles and use the current motor vehicle fuel distribution system. Blending biofuels with fossil fuels might contribute towards potential cost savings within the distribution system of the Community
    • call for support of research and technological development in the field of biofuel sustainability.

    Outgoing from the available scientific and technical information, real social needs and R&D potential and experience of the research team, the project focuses on these current challenges, which, inter alia, may contribute to the implementation of the Directive 2003/390/EC in the conditions of the Slovak Republic. The research team at the project has been dealing with these issues since 15 years is very active in terms of publishing about this domain, developed several original solutions concerning biofuels, has enough experience in this domain and it is able to achieve the project objectives and to meet. An increased frequency of relevant publications in scientific journals recently demonstrates the quality at this domain and the merits of the project.

    The project research concentrates in the following four domains:

    • hydrogenation cracking triglycerides (TAG) in moderate conditions (hydroprocessing)
    • use of TAG as fuel for diesel engines
    • fuel mixtures of the fossil diesel with bio-components (ethanol, methyl esters of higher fatty acids, fatty acid methyl esters – FAME)
    • energy use of the glycerol phase (GF) from the FAME production or partially refined glycerol (G) in boilers

    The current status of the issue

    Currently used fuels for diesel engines contain practically petroleum-based components only. At the continuous increase of fuel consumption and price, the status is intolerable. The emissions coming from the fossil fuel combustion represent a significant trouble for the environment. The aim of the Kyoto Protocol is to reduce the adverse impact of human activity on the atmosphere and weather. The European Union has agreed in reduction of emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and further greenhouse gas by 8 % until 2010 compared to the starting level in 1990. One of the objects of the EU agricultural policy is to increase the use of agricultural overproduction in the field of liquid fuels and so to increase the self-sufficiency in fuel. The European Directive 2003/30/EC considers merely with 2 % biofuels of the consumed fuel volume in 2005. Another requirement of the said Directive is to increase the share of biofuels to 5.75 % in 2010. This Directive is binding for all EU member countries.

    Currently, the major kind of biofuel for diesel engines are FAME from vegetable oils and animal fats. As a fuel, they are being used in pure form, mainly as a component within the blended

    fossil diesel. FAME demonstrate several outstanding properties, from that for instance a significantly better emission profile of combustion gases compared to fossil diesel, or less solid particles in the flue gas etc. can be mentioned.

    Recently a new phenomenon in connection with the FAME production occurs, and that a byproduct, so called G-phase with its unsolved use. The G-phase represents app. 15 to 18 % of the input oil/fat and contains glycerol (G), alkaline soaps, FAME, and methanol. Once welcome source of G has now turned to be a highly problematic product resulting from the bulk FAME production that is burdening manufacturers. Research activities focused on the utilization of the valuable triol G encounters quantitative restrictions. The price for G (semi-refined G with the G content more than 90 %) dropped more than ten times in the last years and currently stands at around SKK 3 per kg. That’s way one of stages of the submitted project is the activity aiming at the use of the product for the energy.

    Another real biogenic motor fuel is bioethanol (ethanol obtained using fermentation technology from the bioimass). Its use in fuels for the diesel engines is possible in two forms, either as an additive into the fossil diesel or fatty acid ethyl ester after replacement of methanol by ethanol in the transesterification TAG. As to fuels for the spark-ignition engines – either an addition of ethanol into gasolines up to 20 % (USA), or of ETBE (ethyl-tertiar-butylether) with a share up to 15 %. The ETBE is prepared by a reaction of ethanol with isobuten. Production of bioethanol is also technically managed; for its utilization in the fuel sector, there is not a sufficient production capacity for the time being.

    The project is focused on the study of non traditional forms and ways how to utilize the natural triacylglycerols (TAG) in the sector of liquid fuels for engines and energy purposes. This study also concerns preparation and properties of TAG-based liquid systems as fuels and/or their components for diesel engines. The scope of interest involves possibilities and conditions of use of the pure TAG and/or their blends with the fossil diesel in the diesel engines after a design modification or not. The study of properties of the blend ethanol – diesel as fuel in diesel engines and its influence on the output of and emissions from the engine might lead to a wider utilization of bioethanol in diesel fuels. Urgent and important is the solution for the energy use of the polar glycerol phase (GF) and partially refined glycerol (G) from the production of methyl esters. The key program of the submitted project is, however, the study of the hydrogenation cracking TAG in moderate conditions as methods of preparation of the improver of cetane number and/or fuel and its fuel for diesel engines.

    Project involves some solutions and concepts already existing in a certain form and the scientific literature contains some partial information on them; for some obvious reasons, they are incomplete and insufficient for their implementation in conditions and within the possibilities of the Slovak Republic. The project aim is to supplement this data and to gain detailed information on the processes and materials, to verify results in the laboratory and practice, to innovate procedures and to deliver new documents in order to cause a change of skeptical and outdated view hitherto.

    Project aims

    Stage: “Hydrogenation cracking triglycerides (TAG) in moderate conditions (hydroprocessing)”

    In this stage, we intend to study catalytic systems for this type of processes. As raw material may be TAG of any kind and origin so as free fatty acids FFA. The diversification of sources is a significant factor helping to minimize the logistics cost. A complex analysis of process individual products as well as their blends with the classical motor diesel will be carried out, and the options of the properties modifications of the blends with commonly used additives. Usual tests including those of the engine are performed. The documents for the operational use of the process and its products will be drawn up. The aim of the stage are the documents for the preparation of alkans-isoalkans mixture of hydrocarbons C12 to C24 as the CN improver or the preparation of fuel components for diesel engines.

    Stage “TAG as fuel for diesel engines”

    The object of works to be conducted within the stage shall be the use of vegetable oils (also animal fats within a certain limit, such as the lard) as fuel for diesel engines unmodified or modified. The stand engine tests of the pure TAG of vegetable origin as fuel for unmodified engine will be performed with the focus on the engine output, fuel consumption, emission, fume, impact on the motor oil, the cleanness of the combustion engine and the injection nozzles, ash content in TAG and its impact on the engine run. The influence of the refining degree on the complex engine operation will be subject of study, the laboratory tests of modification of pure vegetable oils will be conducted, and some simple adaptations of the oil for this use will follow. A selection of suitable additives to improve the operation properties of the engine will be accomplished (antioxidants, detergents, anti-corrosion agents, sediments solving substances inside the engine). Attention will be paid to vegetable oils with suitable additives, the stand engine tests of the additive blended TAG of vegetable origin as fuel for unmodified engine will be performed with the focus on the engine output, fuel consumption, emission, fume, impact on the motor oil, the cleanness of the combustion engine and the injection nozzles.

    Options for the use of system TAG + fossil diesel as blended fuel for diesel engines, both unmodified and modified, will be studied. Additionally the improving effect of additives on the properties of the blended fuel and of additives to improve the engine operation as well will be examined. The engine tests will take place to the extent required.

    Stage “Fuel blends of fossil diesel with ethanol or ethanol + FAME”

    Research work at this stage will be focused on the engine tests of the additived binary and ternary blends of the fossil diesel containing biocomponents (ethanol / ethanol + FAME) as a fuel for unmodified/modified engine with the focus on the engine output, fuel consumption, emission, fume, impact on the motor oil, the cleanness of the combustion engine and the injection nozzles. Another aim of the research work within this stage is to obtain documentation for the diesel engine operation with fuel based on the biocomponents of ethanol and natural triacylglycerols.

    Stage “Energy use of the glycerol phase from the FAME production or raw glycerol”

    Interest will concentrate in the direct combustion of the highly preheated glycerol phase (GF) or partially refined glycerol (G) by atomization through nozzles in the incineration chamber of industrial boilers in order to take advantage of the byproduct for energy purposes. Research work at this stage aims at a selection of suitable equipment for the energy recovery from the byproduct formed in the FAME production, suitable burners and modifications of material, in particular, to achieve a reliable and safe operation of such energy installations.


    Research team – contacts

    Participants in the project:

    Faculty of chemical and food technology of the Slovak technical university (FCHPT STU) as being unique as such in the Slovak Republic educates engineers and operators in the production with a bachelor’s degree, in the research, design and development in the domain of chemical, food, wood processing, pharmaceutic industries and consumable goods engineering. It represents a site of academic basic and applied research for aforesaid field of practice. FCHPT is involved in a close cooperation with production plants and companies both national and in abroad. The level of FCHPT is comparable with that of the top research universities and university centers in the EU with regard to the volume and quality of the research work. That is shown clearly at a high number of publications, quotations, grants, invitations to conferences, a close cooperation between universities and institutions as well as membership at international organizations.

    FCHPT has the availability of needed equipment for laboratory research, chemical reactors for the liquid phase, pressurized and normal reactors, for ambient and high temperatures, equipment to prepare and test of catalysts, devices for the analysis and identification of products (GC, GC/MS, HPLC, NMR, IR etc.) and also software for data processing and evaluation.

    Within the frame of the project, FCHPT provides organizational and logistic backup, the literature search, tests and laboratory examinations with vegetable oils with a bioethanol addition, the selection of suitable additives to improve the standard properties of the blended fuel and the performance properties of the engine. It performs a selection of suitable hardware for the energy recovery from the glycerol phase / raw glycerol.

    Faculty of chemical and food
    technology of the STU
    Institute of physical chemistry and chemical physics
    Department of physical chemistry
    Radlinského 9, 812 37 Bratislava
    Doc. Ing. Ján Cvengroš, DrSc.
    Phone: 02/59325531
    Fax: 02/52495381
    E-mail: jan.cvengros@stuba.sk

    VÚRUP, a. s. provides services in the field of applied R&D, engineering work, consulting and advisory services while predominantly concentrating in the crude oil processing, refining, petrochemical and environmental technology, as well as in the utilization of raw materials from the secondary and renewable sources. The company is certified according to ISO 9001:2000 by the Slovak SKQS and German DQS for activities at research and development (R&D), production of chemical specialties, services and activities of test laboratories; the latter are accredited according to STN EN ISO/IEC 17025. Research site disposes of highly skilled and experienced staff, of R&D and analytical equipment and devices for design and tests of new or innovated products in the domain of automotive and alternative fuel for IS engines, diesel engines and jets, solvents, heating gas and oil, bitumens, specialties, additives, zeolites and catalysts. An integral part of the site is a test station for fuels, oils, hydraulic liquids engines for mechanical and engines tests performed on special testing and full dimensional engines and test vehicles. Several of the above-mentioned equipment and devices are unique in Slovakia.

    VÚRUP a. s. will within the project stage “Hydrogenation cracking” study suitable catalysts, reaction conditions, test diverse TAG and analyze the product obtained in the process. It provides engine tests of vegetable oils as diesel fuel for modified/unmodified engines, optimization of the engine modifications, examination of ratio and parameters of components for the blend diesel – ethanol as diesel fuels, and stability test for the said blend. It provides education and promotion of results in the respective domain.

    VÚRUP, a.s.Vlčie hrdlo
    P.O.BOX 50
    820 03 Bratislava 23
    Ing. Jozef Mikulec, CSc.
    Phone: 02/40558950
    Fax: 02/45246276
    E-mail: jozef.mikulec@vurup.sk

    University of Žilina, Faculty of mechanical engineering, Department of transport and handling machines, Section Combustion engines and automobiles is equipped with devices for the evaluation of economic and environmental parameters of piston engines, with the software for a dynamic vehicles and engines simulation, for the simulation of external and internal dynamics and thermodynamics of piston and jet engines including the simulation of formation of the toxic components of exhaust fumes. The department is equipped with the equipment for dynamic simulation of strength problems, along with the numeric simulation.

    The research establishment will carry out the assessment and evaluation of product properties from the TAG hydrogenation cracking, including the engine tests. It assures the engine tests of blends diesel – ethanol as diesel fuel and also the results promotion.

    University of Žilina
    Faculty of mechanical engineering
    Department of transport and handling machines
    Section Combustion engines and automobiles
    Moyzesova 20
    010 26 Žilina
    Doc. Ing. Ján Lábaj, PhD.
    Phone: 041/5132681
    Fax: 041/5253016
    E-mail: jan.labaj@fstroj.utc.sk

    Biorafinéria Sk a. s., Martin deals with design, production and assembly of processing lines for vegetable oils and animal fats. It aims mainly at the processing of natural TAG into FAME with a consistent use of all byproducts from the FAME production, including glycerol and glycerol phase.

    In the project, the company will focus on the energy recovery from the G-phase and glycerol, on tests of suitable equipment, balances and evaluation.

    Biorafinéria SK a.s.
    Flámska 1
    036 01 Martin
    Ing. Ivan Majerík
    Ing. Martin Cvengroš, PhD.
    Phone: 043/4303602
    Fax: 043/4220617
    E-mail: majerik@biorafineria.sk