Treating Emulsions with Heat

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Heat can be used to successfully break emulsions. Heat is one of the key elements to quick and easy biodiesel production. It is also be used during transesterification and washing to speed things up and obtain purer results.

Why Use Heat?

Heating up an emulsion causes the oil to expand, making it less dense, while the water remains about the same density. By making the differences in the densities of the water and the oil greater, they will split more easily. Heating the emulsion also decreases the oil's viscosity speeding things up.

Heating up the emulsion or adding hot water to and emulsified batch before leaving it to settle will help it break faster. Other methods are capable of breaking the mixture much more quickly but they do have a downfall... they add other ingredients that some are concerned don't come back out easily with washing (such as acid and salt).

Recipe for Breaking an Emulsion with Hot Water:

As with most methods of breaking the 'chicken soup', there is no one recipe that works for all.

Here's a recipe to get you started:

Add 1 part very hot water for every 4 parts 'chicken soup', and stir gently with a paddle, then let it settle. If it doesn't break, try another method.

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