Biodiesel production from crude palm oil using sulfonic acid-modified mesostructured catalysts
Biodiesel production from crude palm oil containing high percentage of free fatty acids over sulfonic acid-functionalized SBA-15 materials (propyl-SO3H, arene-SO3H, perfluoro-SO3H) has been studied. The catalytic results showed that sulfonic acid-modified mesostructured materials were more active than conventional ion-exchange sulfonic resins (Amberlyst-36 and SAC-13) in the simultaneous esterification of free fatty acids and transesterification of triglycerides with methanol. The reusability of the catalysts was also investigated showing high stability for propyl-SO3H and arene-SO3H-modified mesostructured materials. In contrast, ionic exchange sulfonic acid resins displayed low conversion rates, being stronger this decay of activity in the second consecutive catalytic run. Interestingly, perfluorosulfonic acid-functionalized SBA-15 sample yielded a dramatic loss of activity indicating that Si-O-C bonding is not stable under the reaction conditions as compared with Si-C bond present in propyl-SO3H and arene-SO3H catalysts. Further functionalization of arene-SO3H SBA-15 catalyst with hydrophobic trimethylsilyl groups enhanced its catalytic performance. This material was able to produce a yield to FAME of ca. 95 % as determined by 1H NMR in four hours of reaction with a moderate methanol to oil molar ratio (20:1), 140 ºC and a catalyst concentration of 6 wt% referred to starting oil.
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