Paratherm Hot-Oil in BioDiesel Process for Over Two Decades

A Florida BioDiesel plant, designed and constructed in the mid 1990’s needed a durable, food-grade, thermally stable high-temperature heat transfer fluid to heat the transesterification process and distill the methanol off the glycerine recovery.

The engineers chose the Paratherm™ NF Heat Transfer Fluid. This food grade (NSF approved) fluid operates between 120°F and a film temperature of 650°F.

At the time, the Paratherm NF fluid already had a history, and wide usage, in bio-oils processing. The Paratherm NF fluid has been specified and employed in numerous edible-oil plants, often replacing steam or synthetic vapor-phase fluids, in a distillation process known as oil deodorization.

The properties that made this specific heat transfer fluid attractive to the bio-oil industry, and why it continues to be used in dozens of these plants, also help explain why it is being specified for the transesterification process in several BioDiesel plants going online now, and several more under construction…

  • High Temperature Capability: Unlike most other hot oils, the Paratherm NF fluid is rated for film temperatures up to 650°F—allowing for the 550° to 600° process temperature range shared by Bio-oil distillation and BioDiesel glycerine production, with a safe temperature buffer to allow for temperature glitches or operator issues. In this demanding Biodiesel heating process, it is a “forgiving” fluid.
  • Food-Grade Status: Unlike synthetic alternatives, Paratherm NF is FDA and NSF certified and completely non-toxic—which could be important to downline users of glycerine by-product. The fluid’s lack of irritating odor and easy recyclability and disposal are added benefits deriving from its non-toxic status.
  • Availability: The Paratherm NF fluid is stocked in 6 North-American regional warehouses for fast routine supply—and super-fast availability in emergencies. Yes, even evenings and weekends. So if an unforseen system problem leads to a need for a bunch of drums tomorrow morning, or this afternoon, Paratherm can deliver.
  • Tech Support: Paratherm customers call Paratherm—not just about fluids and orders and shipments, but about their systems. Paratherm’s SludgeBusters team of engineers know hot-oil systems well, and routinely help customers troubleshoot their process operations. For example, the Florida BioDiesel plant mentioned in the above paragraph had an exchanger breach in 2004, and Paratherm assisted with the diagnosis of the problem, then advised in the repair of the system and rehabilitation of the contaminated thermal oil through fluid analysis and interpretation. This involved a step-by-step boilout and partial drainage procedure. The fluid in that system has been running, with regular fluid analysis and assistance from Paratherm support, since 1993.

For a hot oil vs. steam costs/savings analysis specifically for your system or planned system, click here and send us an email, or call Jim Walzer at +1 610-756 7216. This chart is just a small example based upon our engineering spreadsheet software.

(Recently, several smaller biodiesel operations, not needing the glycerine recapture, have specified Paratherm HE high-flash- and high-fire-point heat transfer fluid for their process heating.)

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