Pelletization of canola meal with glycerol as binding agent



Canola was developed by Canadian breeders to remove anti-nutritional (erucic acid and glucosinolates) components from rapeseed in early 1970's. Canada has been the single largest canola producer in the world. Canada produces 20 % of the world's canola/ rapeseed and is the largest exporter in the world as well. Canola generates a large amount of revenue contributing towards Canadian economy. For example, Quebec and Ontario generate $1.4 billion while western Canada generates $7.5 billion per year. The ten years average of canola harvest is 11.3 million acres which may rise to 15 million acres by 2015 ( Canola oil is mainly used in food industries. Besides, it has wide range of applications in biodiesel industries especially the oil with high chlorophyll and with higher free fatty acid (FFA) content. Canola and soybeans are the two main crops widely used to produce biodiesel in Canada. The current diesel usage in Canada is 40 billion litres per year and there has been a recent Canadian government mandate to replace up to 500 million litres of petro-diesel per year (5%) with biodiesel by 2012 ( and 1.2 billion litres per year by 2015. This mandate will foster biodiesel industries. Canola fiber and crude glycerol are two important by-products of biodiesel production facility and possess limited market. The growth of biodiesel industries in upcoming years will not only produce by-products such as canola fiber and crude glycerol but also put immense pressure to utilize them. For every 10 pounds of biodiesel production, the production of crude glycerol through transesterification of triglyceride feed stocks is one pound ( Canola seeds contain 40-43 % of oil and the remainder is processed into high protein livestock feed due to excellent amino acid profile and high vitamins and minerals content ( However, the canola meal has to compete with higher protein sources such as dry distiller's grains (DDGS) obtained from ethanol industries. The energy produced from the by-products can be used in the biodiesel production process so as to increase the overall process efficiency, enhance the energy to yield ratio and displace fossil fuels consumed in the processing and production of canola and/ or biodiesel. A major issue associated with loose canola fiber is handling, storage and transportation. Engineering Canola fiber into densified, moisture free and uniform pellets and/ or briquettes is the most promising solution. Issues related with glycerol are the high ignition temperature than with other hydrocarbons, the viscous nature, and emission of the acrolein compound which is a potential health hazard ( The demonstration and utilization of the coproducts as an alternative and renewable energy source for use as potential fuels in the processing of canola seeds and production of biodiesel will increase the overall efficiency, environmental attributes, sustainability and performance of the process, to the benefit of the industry.Developing and demonstrating the utilization of canola hull fibre/meal and crude glycerol will not only provide new energy alternatives, but will also help producers to reduce costs, increase efficiency, displace fossil fuels used in the production process and significantly reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions.

World energy demand is expected to increase over the next few decades as a result of population growth and the increase in the standard of living of developing countries. Considering the fact that energy consumption is increasing and limited fossil fuels are being depleted, with increasing populations and economic developments, renewable energy should be widely explored to renovate the energy sources structure and keep sustainable development safe. However, the economic viability of this program will depend on the development of fuels and commodity chemicals from this abundant and underutilized bio resource.

More than 52,000 Canadian farmers grow canola – largely as full-time farmers and in family farm businesses. Saskatchewan has a great potential to develop and commercialize support bioenergy projects involving canola industry. Western Canadian farmers planted 6.5 million hectares of canola in 2009, similar to 2008. Statistics Canada's Field Crop Reporting Series No. 8 reported that the 2009 western Canada mean yield of 1900 kg/ha, higher than the 1700 kg/ha reported in 2008 and the record high 1800 kg/ha reported for 2005. This industry is expected to grow as the global biodiesel market is estimated to reach 37 billion gallons by 2016 with an average annual growth of 42%, which means about 4 billion gallons of crude glycerol will be produced [1]. Canola meal is another major by-product of canola seed crushing. Though the Canola production and exports are expected down, the increased crushing activity is forecast to raise Canada's Canola oil and meal's production as well exports. As per the Agriculture and Agri Food Canada's (AAFC) Canada Canola Outlook 2010-11 report, canola meal production for 2010-11 is 3.3 million tonnes up by more than 20% against previous year's 2.7 million tonnes while exports are expected to rise by more than 40% from 1.75 million tonnes in 2009-10 to 2.5 million tonnes in 2010-11 (2).The issue of oversupply and associated price volatility and reduced profitability from the sale of the coproducts from bioenergy processing plants drive the need to utilize these coproducts for renewable energy. Using the coproducts as a renewable energy source to fuel the manufacturing process is a sound and sustainable application that is proposed in this applications as a solution to the impending oversupply scenario. Canola hull fibre/meal and glycerine if used as an energy source in the process of manufacturing biodiesel will enhance the energy input process and could help in stabilizing the projected oversupply issues of these coproduces in the future.

For the past few years, there has been an emphasis on exploring alternative sources of energy. Biomass and its derivatives which are considered renewable and a potentially cleaner source of energy when compared to fossil fuels, has received considerable attention around the world due to the fact that biomass is really stored solar energy utilizing CO2 in air due to photosynthesis, available when needed. For this reason, greener sources of energy will be required to replace or to minimize the consumption of fossil fuels. Industrial biomass can be grown from numerous types of plants, including miscanthus, switch grass, hemp, corn, poplar, willow, sorghum, sugarcane, and a variety of tree species, ranging from eucalyptus to oil palm (palm oil). There are several methods of utilizing biomass to generate energy and fuels, however, gasification processes offer technologically more attractive options for medium and large scale applications. The pyrolysis of wood [3-9], cellulose [9-12], and other biomass materials such as sawdust [13,14], olive husk [15,16], hazelnut and hazel wood [16], lignin [16,17], rice husk [16,19], birch wood [18], almond shells [20,21], Mallee Wood [22], pine wood [23], apple pulp [24], coffee Hulls [25], sesame stalk [26], linseed (Linum usitatissimum L.) [27], cotton seed cake [28], sunflower oil cake [29], maize, sunflower, grape and tobacco Residues [30], Microalgae [31] were studied extensively in the past.

There are several processes such as pyrolysis, flash pyrolysis, microwave assisted pyrolysis, hydropyrolysis and thermal decomposition performed on biomaterials using fixed-bed, fluidized-bed reactors for the production of value-added syngas, hydrogen-rich syngas, bio-oils, hydrocarbons. The main advantage of these technologies is that the liquid/gases produced can be stored and transported to bio-refineries where it can be most effectively converted into transportation fuels and chemicals. In the recent past, significant progress has been made in developing pyrolysis technologies for converting lignocellulosic materials into fuel and chemicals. The thermochemical conversion of biomass to produce fuel gas via gasification is considered as the most practical process for bio-energy utilization. In gasification process, the biomass is completely converted to gaseous products having different compositions. Gasification converts biomass into a combustible gas mixture (CO, CO2, CH4, H2 and H20) by partial oxidation of the biomass at high temperatures, typically in the range of 800 to 900 °C.

Thermochemical gasification was performed by Kumar et al [32] using a bench-scale fluidized-bed gasifier with steam and air as fluidizing and oxidizing agents of distillers grains, a non-fermentable by-product of ethanol production. The effects of gasification temperature (650-850°C), steam to biomass ratio (7.3-14.3) and equivalence ratio (0.07-0.29) on gas composition, carbon conversion efficiency and energy conversion efficiency of the product gas were studied. Gasification temperature was found to be the most influential factor. Increasing the temperature resulted in increases in hydrogen and methane contents, carbon conversion and energy efficiencies. Increasing equivalence ratio decreased the hydrogen content but increased carbon conversion and energy efficiencies. The steam to biomass ratio was optimal in the intermediate. A cyclone gasifier concept has been studied based on biomass micron fuel (BMF) with particle size of less than 250 µm, for biomass gasification [33]. The concept combines and integrates partial oxidation, fast pyrolysis, gasification, and tar cracking, as well as a shift reaction, with the purpose of producing a high quality of gas. Under the experimental conditions, the temperature, gas yields, LHV of the gas fuel, carbon conversion efficiency, stream decomposition and gasification efficiency varied in the range of 586–845 °C, 1.42– 2.21 N m3/kg biomass, 3806–4921 kJ/m3, 54.44%–85.45%, 37.98%–70.72%, and 36.35%–56.55%, respectively. It was claimed that the BMF gasification by air and low temperature stream in the cyclone gasifier with the energy self-sufficiency is reliable. Using larch wood as the starting material the effect of steam gasification conditions on products properties was investigated in a bubbling fluidized bed reactor [34]. For bed material effect, calcined limestone and calcined waste concrete gave high content of H2 and CO2, while silica sand provided the high content of CO at 650 °C, calcined limestone proved to be most effective for tar adsorption and showed high ability to adsorb CO2 in bed. At 750 °C it could not capture CO2 but still gave the highest cold gas efficiency (% LHV) of 79.61%. The study also indicated that steam gasification gave higher amount of gas product and higher H2/CO ratio than those obtained with N2 pyrolysis. There has been no study utilizing crude glycerol and residues from canola industry for renewable fuels.

As demand for diversified, easily transported, carbon-neutral energy from biomass increases, there is increasing use being made of "waste" biomasses, such as sawdust, wheat and flax straw, as well as soy and almond hulls [35, 36, 37]. One of the most cost-effective ways to use these waste materials is pelletization (densification). Biomass material is ground and pressed in a mill to allow cellular components to bond with one another. Pelletization drastically reduces storage space for the loose material and greatly increases the energy density per unit volume. It also improves handling characteristics, significantly reducing dust-related fire and health hazards. These biomass pellets will be burned for electricity in former coal-fired electrical plants and in domestic stoves for heating and cooking [35, 36, 37].

This project is to investigate canola meal potential as a densified-biomass for combustion, in order to create an alternative revenue stream for canola producers and canola industry.

For every tonne of biodiesel produced, approximately one hundred kilograms of crude glycerol are produced as a by-product. While there is demand for glycerol in pharmaceutical, hygiene and skin-care products, there is not enough demand to keep up with the supply of glycerol created by current levels of biodiesel production. As biodiesel production increases, it will increase the amount of crude glycerol produced. This study also aims to investigate the potential of crude glycerol as a binding agent for densified biomass, creating an alternative revenue stream for biodiesel producers.


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