Small biodiesel plant

In selected situations, small biodiesel plants can be highly economic. A South African manufacturer of biodiesel plants says that its smallest plant, producing 50 litres per hour, costs around $11,000; the largest plant it produces, producing 8,000 litres per hour, costs around $390,000.
These prices are for the plant which converts oil to bi In selected situations, small biodiesel plants can be highly economic. A South African manufacturer of biodiesel plants says that its smallest plant, producing 50 litres per hour, costs around $11,000; the largest plant it produces, producing 8,000 litres per hour, costs around $390,000.
These prices are for the plant which converts oil to biodiesel and do not include the cold press or other plant required to produce the vegetable oil.
Generally, the viability or otherwise of biodiesel plants is directly related to the price of competing conventional diesel, and the price of inputs to the biodiesel plants.
In developed countries, biodiesel is produced in large amounts because reprocessing of spent cooking oil is required by law and/or because the production of biodiesel is subsidised. These factors are generally not applicable in developing countries. However, in developing countries, biodiesel production can be economic particularly in the following circumstances:

  • Where spent oil from fast food outlets and factories is easily collected and is sold cheap.
  • Where there is a surplus of local oilseed – for instance palm oil – but no market for its sale.
  • When commodity prices for local oilseeds are low compared to conventional diesel prices.
    To reduce project risk related to varying commodity prices, a plant could be designed to additionally or alternatively produce edible oil. The design would be influenced by the demands of the local market – it might include facilities for deodorising, ultrafiltration and bleaching.
    In favour of biodiesel production in the long-term is the fact that developing world currencies are generally in chronic decline against the US dollar, in which crude oil is denominated. This means that in the long-term, crude oil prices to developing countries are likely to rise even if the crude oil dollar price remains constant, for instance.
    A by-poduct which is invariably produced in all oil expressing processes is oilcake, which is used in animal feed production.
    The production of biodiesel is well-established technology – in fact historically, the first diesel engine produced by Rudolf Diesel ran on vegetable oil.
    Pure plant oils like sunflower, maize, cotton, avocado, peanut, palm and canola (but not castor), are technically suitable for biodiesel production.
    Biodiesel plant are manufactured in South Africa by engineering firm Marlim.

    Marlim: Tel +27-57-3573; mikel@marlim.co.za