Biodiesel is produced in oleochemical plants, based on animal tallow or vegetal fats and oils. It was considered as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. In the first generation food or feed crops were used, today production is more based on non-edible fats.
In order to reduce carbon foot print, it is of utmost importance that biodiesel production plants are highly energy efficient. For this reason, energy saving plate heat exchangers are widely used. In general, normal gasketed Plate Heat exchangers Sigma are used. However, in some duties special gasket elastomers are necessary. Semi-welded heat exchangers Sigmadual, and sometimes fully welded Sigmawig plate heat exchangers have been installed, on critical duties.
Today oleochemical production plants combine a range of products. An example would be fatty acids and fatty alcohols, for making soaps and detergents. In addition Lauric acid is produced, essential to producing sodium lauryl sulphate and related compounds, which are used to make soaps and other personal care products.
Other applications of oleochemicals include the production of lubricants (“synthetic motor oil”), solvents, biodiesel as mentioned above, and bioplastics. Due to the use of methyl esters in biodiesel production, they represent the fastest growing sub-sector of oleochemical production in recent years.