Paratherm Hot-Oil in BioDiesel Process for Over Two Decades

A Florida BioDiesel plant, designed and constructed in the mid 1990’s needed a durable, food-grade, thermally stable high-temperature heat transfer fluid to heat the transesterification process and distill the methanol off the glycerine recovery.

The engineers chose the Paratherm NF® Heat Transfer Fluid. This food grade (NSF approved) fluid operates between 48°C and a film temperature of 343°C.

At the time, the Paratherm NF fluid already had a history, and wide usage, in bio-oils processing. The Paratherm NF fluid has been specified and employed in numerous edible-oil plants, often replacing steam or synthetic vapour-phase fluids, in a distillation process known as oil deodorization.

The properties that made this specific heat transfer fluid attractive to the bio-oil industry, and why it continues to be used in dozens of these plants, also help explain why it is being specified for the transesterification process in several BioDiesel plants going online now, and several more under construction…

  • High Temperature Capability: Unlike most other hot oils, the Paratherm NF fluid is rated for film temperatures up to 343°C allowing for the 287°C to 315°C process temperature range shared by Bio-oil distillation and BioDiesel glycerine production, with a safe temperature buffer to allow for temperature glitches or operator issues. In this demanding Biodiesel heating process, it is a “forgiving” fluid.
  • Food-Grade Status: Unlike synthetic alternatives, Paratherm NF is FDA and NSF certified and completely non-toxic—which could be important to downline users of glycerine by-product. The fluid’s lack of irritating odour and easy recyclability and disposal are added benefits deriving from its non-toxic status.
  • Availability: The Paratherm NF fluid is stocked in 6 North-American regional warehouses for fast routine supply—and super-fast availability in emergencies. Yes, even evenings and weekends. So if an unforseen system problem leads to a need for a group of drums tomorrow morning, or this afternoon, Paratherm can deliver.
  • Tech Support: Paratherm customers call Paratherm—not just about fluids, orders and shipments, but about their systems. Paratherm’s Sludge Busters team of engineers know hot-oil systems well, and routinely help customers troubleshoot their process operations. For example, the Florida BioDiesel plant mentioned in the above paragraph had an exchanger breach in 2004, and Paratherm assisted with the diagnosis of the problem, then advised in the repair of the system and rehabilitation of the contaminated thermal oil through fluid analysis and interpretation.
  • This involved a step-by-step boilout and partial drainage procedure. The fluid in that system has been running, with regular fluid analysis and assistance from Paratherm support, since 1993.


(Recently, several smaller biodiesel operations, not needing the glycerine recapture, have specified Paratherm HE high-flash- and high-fire-point heat transfer fluid for their process heating.)

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