Catalyst for Biodiesel: An Overview of Catalysts Used in Biodiesel Production

Catalyst for Biodiesel: An Overview of Catalysts Used in Biodiesel Production

Kapilan N. (Nagarjuna College of Engineering and Technology, India)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3903-2.ch006


The properties of biodiesel are similar to the fossil diesel and hence it can be used as a partial substitute for diesel without making any changes in the engine fuel injection system. The biodiesel is produced by a chemical process called transesterification with the help of homogeneous or heterogeneous catalysts. The homogeneous catalysts are most widely used for the commercial production of biodiesel. However, these catalysts require good quality feedstock for the production of the biodiesel. Hence, new catalysts are developed to overcome the problems associated with the homogeneous catalysts. This chapter discusses the various homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts and highlights the advantages and disadvantages of each catalyst.
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The biodiesel is produced from vegetable oils or fats by a chemical process called as transesterification. In transesterification reaction, vegetable oil or animal fat reacts with alcohol such as methanol or ethanol, in the presence of a catalyst and the products of the reaction is biodiesel and glycerin. The non-edible oils are believed to be one of the major feedstock for the production of biodiesel. In transesterification reaction, oil or fat reacts with three moles of light alcohol to give three moles of biodiesel and one mole of glycerol. The transesterification is a reversible reaction and hence excess alcohol is added to shift the reaction to the product side. The crude biodiesel is treated to remove methanol and catalyst, and refined to fulfill the biodiesel standard specifications (Stojković, et al., 2014). The treatment process should be evaluated with respect to its treatment efficiency and operational requirements. Hence an integration treatment involving acidification, coagulation/flocculation and a biological process is the best choice. The reuse of the pretreated wastewater is also an interesting alternative (Veljković, et al., 2014).

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