Optimization of biodiesel production process using recycled vegetable oil
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Petro diesel toxic emissions and its limited resources have created an interest for the development of new energy resources, such as biodiesel. Biodiesel is traditionally produced by a transesterification reaction between vegetable oil and an alcohol in the presence of a catalyst. However, this process is slow and expensive due to the high cost of raw materials. Low costs feedstock oils such as recycled and animal fats are available but they cannot be transesterified with alkaline catalysts due to high content of free fatty acids, which can lead to undesirable reactions such as saponification. In this study, we reduce free fatty acids content by using an acid pre-treatment. We compare sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid and ptoluenesulfonic acid (PTSA) to pre-treat recycled vegetable oil. PTSA removes water after 60 minutes of treatment at room temperature or within 15 minutes at 50˚C. The pretreatment was followed by a transesterification reaction using alkaline catalyst. To minimize costs and accelerate reaction, the pre-treatment and transesterification reaction of recycle vegetable oil was conducted at atmospheric pressure in a microwave oven. Biodiesel was characterized using a GC-MS method.