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International Journal of Photoenergy
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 1048095, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/1048095
Research Article

Solar Energy for a Solvent Recovery Stage in a Biodiesel Production Process

1Engineering Institute, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Boulevard B. Juárez y Calle de la Normal S/N, 21280 Mexicali, BCN, Mexico
2Faculty of Architecture and Design, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Boulevard B. Juárez y Calle de la Normal S/N, 21280 Mexicali, BCN, Mexico
3School of Engineering and Business Guadalupe Victoria, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California, Carretera Estatal No. 3 Col. Gutiérrez, 21720 Mexicali, BCN, Mexico

Received 29 March 2016; Accepted 15 June 2016

Academic Editor: Juan M. Coronado

Copyright © 2016 José A. León et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Recent research and development of clean energy have become essential due to the global climate change problem, which is caused largely by fossil fuels burning. Therefore, biodiesel, a renewable and ecofriendly biofuel with less environmental impact than diesel, continues expanding worldwide. The process for biodiesel production involves a significant energy demand, specifically in the methanol recovery stage through a flash separator and a distillation column. Traditionally, the energy required for this process is supplied by fossil fuels. It represents an opportunity for the application of renewable energy. Hence, the current study presents a system of thermal energy storage modeled in TRNSYS® and supported by simulations performed in ASPEN PLUS®. The aim of this research was to supply solar energy for a methanol recovery stage in a biodiesel production process. The results highlighted that it is feasible to meet 91% of the energy demand with an array of 9 parabolic trough collectors. The array obtained from the simulation was 3 in series and 3 in parallel, with a total area of 118.8 m2. It represents an energy saving of 70 MWh per year.