Certain aspects in the processing of biodiesel from tallow and used cooking oils can be fairly demanding for pumping equipment, as the possibility of the transfer pumps becoming clogged up is a constant threat.
Waukesha Universal II is a success in biodiesel processing
At Argent Energy’s plant in Scotland, AxFlow has introduced Waukesha Cherry-Burrell Universal II Series pumps for handling Glycerine-Like Product and Bio Fuel Oil, this being the residue of the raw Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) produced by the distillation process.
Argent Energy’s plant in Scotland, which has been recognised as Europe’s largest biodiesel processing plant, has a capability to produce 45,000 tons of biodiesel per year. With production being on a 24/7 basis, processing equipment is subjected to a very high workload and therefore must be capable of offering high levels of efficiency and minimum downtime.
The three types of WCB pumps now used at the plant are the Universal II 45, Universal II 15 and Universal II 18. For high viscosity fluids, the large fluid cavities of the rotors, together with the large easy entry anti-cavitation ports allow efficient pumping of slurries and liquids containing solids of the nature encountered in biodiesel processing.
Providing flow rates of 1000-1500l/h the WCB U45 pumps are employed on the GLP acidulation and neutralisation lines where the abrasive nature of the fluid presents a problem. The WCB U15 and U18 pumps are used on the two BFO lines immediately after distillation. Giving flow rates of 800kph and 400kph respectively, the U18 is used after the first column and the U15 after the second column. Both these pumps have proved to be capable of withstanding both the temperature of heavier phase fuel oil, which can reach 120ºC, and its make-up. In addition, the high temperatures involved can lead to material crystallisation has not had any impact on pump performance.
Argent Energy reports that the attraction of the WCB Universal pumps is the ability of the O-rings and seals to withstand the temperatures required for the process and the rotors to resist attack. Since their commissioning in 2006 the pumps have given trouble-free performance and far higher levels of operating efficiency than the pumps which they replaced.