Integrated biofuel production on a farm

Since April 2003, Dr Thomas Hernandorena, an Argentine farmer from Coronel Suarez (Buenos Aires state) has become the pioneer of integrated biofuel production.

Dr Hernandorena was the first farmer that produced his own biodiesel fuel, delivering from the sunflower oil seeds to the tractor and harvester fuel tank. The latest information is that this is the first integrated renewable fuel installation in the world. The know how, basic engineering and all the equipment were supplied in 2002 by Abatec also an Argentine company.

The production package includes two steps:

  • oilseed crushing to obtain rich expeller and pure filtered oil.
  • processing this virgin oil by using one BIO2 pressurised reactor, to get biodiesel and valuable glycerol.

The crushing step includes a 2HP sunflower cracker, one rugged Tinytech screw press with 10HP motor for 3000 kg/day of seeds, and one press filter with 12 plates for maximum purification of the oil.

It is important to point out that this sunflower oil, obtained by first pressing, is ready to be used as edible oil.

At present, the farmer is getting a 40% of oil extraction from his seeds.

The simultaneously produced sunflower cake has around 10% of remaining oil in it, and is used with big success to feed the cattle of the farm in winter, when there is a lack of green grass.

The biodiesel step is made with a pressurised reactor for 400 L/day in two batches of 200 litre.

He uses lye as cataliser and industrial grade methanol for the alcoholisis.

He also gets 80 litres/day of high quality glycerol.

The fuel flows through the 5 micron filter of the BIO2, and is stored in plastic drums.

Its first 100% use is for feeding the diesel generating set that supports all the farm.

It runs smoothly and without any gaseous pollution.

The biodiesel is also the only fuel for farm machines, truck, pick-up and the farmer’s family cars.

The filtered glycerol is also used for cattle meal, a biodegradable detergent on buildings and as a liquid soap for hands and skin.

This farmer noted that by using a 3% of the collected seeds to make biodiesel fuel, this quantity results enough to cultivate the 100% of his land during the year round.

Of course, this will depend on the crop’s yield at each zone.

With the small integrated plant, which cost is similar to the one modern light truck, and needs 60m2 of space only, this farmer can for the first time in history, to decide when and what to do with his production.

He has now seeds, cake, oil, glycerol and biodiesel.

All the products are with high added value.

At present, 2006, his example was followed by several small farmers around the world, that are using soyabean, sunflower, jatropha, castor, palm, mustard, coconut, and other oil seeds.

At USA, Grover McKee from Salemby Farms, Burden, Kansas, is operating one Savoia BD2 M20 module, fed by a screw press that processes canola seeds

Source: Processingtalk


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