The Benefits of Heat Transfer Fluid for Biodiesel

A Florida-based biodiesel plant, which was designed and developed in the mid-1990s, required a durable, food-grade, thermally stable, high-temperature heat transfer fluid for performing process heating during the transesterification process and methanol distillation off the glycerine recovery.


The engineers chose the Paratherm NF® Heat Transfer Fluid, an NSF-approved, food-grade fluid that works between a film temperature of 120 °F and 650 °F.

It is well known that the Paratherm NF fluid has been widely used in the processing of bio-oils. The fluid finds particular applications in various edible-oil plants, largely replacing synthetic vapor-phase fluids or steam, in a distillation method known as oil deodorization.

Properties of Paratherm NF Fluid

This particular heat transfer fluid is beneficial to the bio-oil industry, and therefore it is continuously used in several biodiesel plants that are going online at present, with many more under construction:

  • Food-grade status: In contrast to synthetic alternatives, Paratherm NF is FDA and NSF certified and completely non-toxic. Therefore, the NF fluid could be essential for downline users of glycerine by-product. The added advantages of the Paratherm NF fluid’s non-toxic status are that it is easily recyclable and disposable, and does not have an irritating odor.
  • Technical support: Customers can contact Paratherm not just with queries related to fluids, orders, and shipments but also about their systems. The SludgeBusters team of engineers from the company has a sound knowledge of hot-oil systems and constantly helps customers in troubleshooting their process operations. For example, in 2004, the Florida-based biodiesel plant mentioned above faced an exchanger breach, and Paratherm assisted in resolving this problem by offering advice on ways to repair the system and restore the contaminated thermal oil by means of fluid analysis and fluid interpretation. This comprised of a stepwise boil-out and partial drainage method. Since 1993, the fluid in this system has been working, with regular fluid analysis and assistance from Paratherm.
  • High-temperature capability: The Paratherm NF fluid is different from a majority of the other hot oils since it is rated for film temperatures of up to 650 °F — permitting the 550–600 °F range of process temperature shared by bio-oil distillation and biodiesel glycerine production, including a safe temperature buffer to withstand temperature glitches or operator issues. It is regarded to be a “forgiving” fluid in such demanding biodiesel heating processes.
  • Availability: The Paratherm NF fluid is stored in six North-American regional warehouses for routine supply and to ensure quick availability during emergencies. Paratherm has the potential to deliver a couple of drums any time in the event of unexpected demand.


Recently, a growing number of smaller biodiesel operations, that do not require the recapture of glycerine, have endorsed the use of the Paratherm HE high-fire-point and high-flash-point heat transfer fluid for process heating.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Paratherm.

For more information on this source, please visit Paratherm.


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