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Department: Engineering – Chemical Engineering



Executive Summary

The main goal of this project is to design a mobile biodiesel production plant, which is

capable of producing 3000 L of biodiesel per week. The design constraints specify that

the biodiesel production plant must be sized to fit into a standard truck-trailer with

dimensions 8 feet wide by 40 feet long by 9.5 feet tall. The plant is to be self-sufficient in

one form of energy (provided by the client), adaptable to different grades of waste

vegetable oil (WVO), environmentally friendly, and economically feasible.

This report presents the final design of the mobile plant in two-dimensional Process Flow

Diagrams (PFD’s) and three-dimensional AutoCAD renderings. The main reaction, the

pre-treatment, and the purification stages are described in detail and the proposed

process, including equipment design specifications, is introduced. The feasibility of this

design was evaluated through an environmental impact assessment and economic

analysis. Although the contents of wastewater are unsuitable for discharge, the economic

analysis, including wastewater disposal costs, proves the design to be economically

feasible. With the production rate of 156,000 L biodiesel annually, a profit of $20563

each year is realized.

For the continuation of this project, future groups are encouraged to collect data specific

to biodiesel and determine the demand for a such a mobile plant.

1.0 Introduction

The purpose of this project is to design an economically feasible mobile biodiesel plant

capable of processing different grades of waste vegetable oil (WVO) to produce 3000 L

of biodiesel per week. The mobile biodiesel production unit will travel to locations such

as cruise ship ports and small communities, where the clients are participating in the

Biodiesel~In Motion program. The clients are provided with two tanks, one for WVO

collection and storage and the other for the biodiesel product. It is desired that the mobile

plant operate to meet the production requirements of 3000 L of biodiesel per week at the

end of a 40-hour work week, such that the plant requires two full-time operators. The

biodiesel produced can then be sold back to the client to fuel their diesel-engined

machinery. In addition, the only client requirements are that they must provide electrical

energy, water, and steam for the mobile plant process.

This final report details the plans and decisions that were made leading up to the

completion of the design of the mobile plant. Section 2.0 will present the main reaction

that was chosen to convert WVO to biodiesel, including the rationale and consequences

for this choice. The process which takes WVO through pre-treatment, reaction, and

finally, purification is described in Section 3.0 and illustrated in Process Flow Diagrams

and Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams attached in Appendix B. The equipment that

this process requires is sized and shown in Section 4.0. Section 5.0 discusses the

environmental impacts of this mobile plant. Finally, based on equipment cost estimates,

the feasibility of this mobile plant is evaluated in an economic analysis in Section 6.0.

Finally, recommendations have been proposed for the continuation of this project.

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