Validation and Improvement of Property and Process Modeling for Oleochemicals

Hector Alexander Forero-Hernandez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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Fatty acids have been produced through reactions with water and vegetable oil on an industrial scale for more than 130 years. These reactions also produce several important industrial chemicals including monoglycerides, diglycerides and glycerol which can be further processed to high value market products. Given their importance in the chemical industry and with a fast-growing market for bio-based products, there is every reason to expect this demand to grow around the world, since oleochemicals are renewable and cheap. Nevertheless, when one is reviewing the technical development of the manufacture of oleochemicals, one finds that some basic facts and properties have only been partially recognized due to the harsh physical conditions at which oleochemicals are exposed to during their processing. Hence, it has become more imperative for the industry to better respond to consumer needs by studying the chemical transformations involved in the processing of oils and fats. It is due to the fact that a good understanding of process phenomena leads to an effective design. The aim of this study is to collect, validate, and improve properties and models of selected oleochemical processes, so as to get a better understanding of them to ensure high process efficiency. In particular, the batch hydrolysis of rapeseed oil at subcritical conditions was studied. The challenges presented by the absence of accurate models for this reaction and process were overcome by collecting data through experiments, rigorous mathematical modeling, uncertainty and sensitivity quantification, thermodynamic analysis of reactions and mixtures, simulation of technologies and scenarios, and analysis of fluid flow behavior in industrial settings. By applying these methodologies, it was possible to represent accurately the studied system. In this way, the production of fatty acids was analyzed in terms of its phenomena, design variables and process parameters. Furthermore, the results were used to validate and
improve property and process modeling. Since the lack of reliable data is a crucial issue in the processing of vegetable oils, a combined experimental and Process Systems Engineering approach proved to be of substantial value to provide necessary information for detailed modeling and characterization of the production of fatty acids. The results are important and valuable in order to improve the understanding of design and operating variables which increase the feasibility of vegetable oil utilization. They are important and valuable because they provide one with information which can be used in the simulation, design, and optimization of the reactions, and recovery of oleochemicals.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
Number of pages178
ISBN (Print)Kgs. Lyngby
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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