Photo: Colourbox

Chemical engineering tools for green oils

Wednesday 24 Apr 19
by Morten Andersen


Georgios Kontogeorgis
DTU Chemical Engineering
+45 45 25 28 59
The properties of oil produced from biological feedstock are very different from fossil-based oils. A consistent effort in the KT Consortium assists in providing the necessary methodology for bio-refining.

While refining crude oil into a variety of useful products has been around for more than a century, the processing of oil from canola and other biological raw materials is a much younger discipline. Therefore, this emerging industry branch finds itself in need of both chemical engineering models and experimental data in order to perform at a level similar to that of traditional refineries.

“The faculty of the KT Consortium was approached by one of our industry members, Alfa Laval, and we were happy to set up a joint effort,” explains Georgios M. Kontogeorgis, Professor at DTU Chemical Engineering and chairman of the KT Consortium.

Alfa Laval is a world leader within technologies based on heat transfer, fluid handling and separation processes. During the last couple of decades, edible oil systems have been of rising importance to the corporation.

"The long-standing cooperation with Alfa Laval on edible oil systems is a fine example of how industry and academic competences can move things forward."
Professor Georgios Kontogeorgis

New property models for bio-oils
After more than a decade of joint research, including several PhD projects, a lot of progress has been made. First of all, the collaboration has resulted in property models and databases based on the relatively scarce experimental data published in the open literature. This has been supplemented with in-house comparison with Alfa Laval plant data. Further, experiments designed to result in new data in order to verify the models and know their limitations and the uncertainties involved are continuously set up.

Currently, the collaboration includes a PhD project by Olivia A. Perederic, DTU Chemical Engineering, on ‘Systematic computer aided methods and tools for lipid processing’. The project is sponsored by Alfa Laval.

The main KT Consortium deliverable is the ICAS (Integrated Computer Aided Systems) software.

“According to feedback from of our industry members, they consider ICAS to be at least as good and possibly better than commercially available process simulation tools,” says Georgios M. Kontogeorgis. “In relation to bio-oils, the combination of software and experimental results will often allow a company to do a preliminary design. Generally, this will be enough to establish the commercial potential of a given process and rank design alternatives.

Strong participation from industry
The KT Consortium is focused on process simulation, has software as its main deliverable and has mainly chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech participants.

Besides the ongoing joint projects and contacts, the industry members are invited to participate in the KT Consortium annual meeting. As always, the 2018 version was well attended by 17 different industrial companies. This year, several presentations involving biotechnology—for instance enzymatic processes for production of chemicals from biomass, conversion of biomass into biofuel, and conversion of biogas into bio-methane—were part of the programme.

“We are pleased by the strong involvement from our industry members. The annual meeting is a truly inspiring venue for direct discussions involving both industry and DTU Chemical Engineering researchers,” Georgios M. Kontogeorgis states.

“The long-standing cooperation with Alfa Laval on edible oil systems is a fine example of how industry and academic competences can move things forward.”

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