Cold-Flow Properties of Biodiesel (Fatty Acid Methyl & Ethyl Ester Blends)
Department: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Michael Senra and Dr. Lindsay Soh
Biodiesels have many characteristics that make them favorable in comparison to petroleum-based fuels, including renewability, carbon neutrality, and biodegradability. However, biodiesel fuels have significant shortfalls in their cold-flow properties because of their constituent species: fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) and fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs), synthesized via transesterification of feedstock oils with methanol, and ethanol, respectively. Biodiesel components crystallize at high temperatures, limiting the fuel’s commercial applicability to low concentration blending with petro-diesel. This research seeks to quantify the cold-flow properties (cloud point, enthalpy of freezing, and peak freezing temperature) of FAME and FAEE biodiesel components, and to analyze deviations from ideality, particularly for mixtures that exhibit co-crystallization. The effects of dimethyl azelate and triacetin (byproducts of biodiesel production) on cloud points and co-crystallization of FAMEs and FAEEs were also analyzed.
FAEEs are potentially advantageous biodiesel components, as ethanol can be renewably sourced, and pure FAEEs have lower cloud points than the analogous FAMEs. However, the literature on FAME biodiesel is much richer than for FAEE. This research aims to establish comprehensive FAEE cloud point data in order to determine if FAEEs are appropriate biodiesel components with respect to cold flow properties.
About Patrick Leggieri:
Patrick Leggieri is a junior chemical engineering student at Lafayette College. He is minoring in biotechnology, and his academic interests are in alternative energy and bioengineering. At Lafayette, in addition to conducting biofuel research, he is a peer tutor in mathematics and chemistry, the treasurer of Tau Beta Pi, and an active member of AIChE. After graduating, he plans to pursue a PhD in chemical or bioengineering.