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Kinetics of hydroxide‐catalyzed methanolysis of crude sunflower oil for the production of fuel‐grade methyl esters

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Methyl esters from crude sunflower oil were produced via methanolysis reaction using sodium hydroxide catalyst. Methanolysis was carried out at different agitation speeds (200–600 rpm), temperatures (25–60 °C), catalyst loadings (0.25–1.00% by weight of oil), and methanol:oil mole ratios (6:1–20:1). Mass‐transfer limitation was effectively minimized at agitation speeds of 400–600 rpm with no apparent lag period. Lowering the temperature resulted in a fall in the rate of reaction prolonging the reaction time necessary to achieve maximum production of methyl ester. Using 0.50% hydroxide catalyst was found to be adequate, resulting in 97–98% conversion without compromising recovery due to soap formation. Increasing the methanol:oil mole ratio beyond the usual amount of 6:1 tended to speed up the initial rate of methanolysis and was found to lower the bonded glycerol content, especially the amount of diglyceride in the sample. Kinetic rate constants were derived from experimental results using second‐order rate expressions, and values of activation energy for glyceride methanolysis have been established. Copyright © 2007 Society of Chemical Industry
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Keywords: biodiesel; methanolysis; methyl esters; sunflower oil; transesterification

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2007

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