Biodiesel Synthesis: Influence of Alkaline Catalysts in Methanol-Oil Dispersion


J. Braz. Chem. Soc.




Biodiesel synthesis from soybean oil using methanol and alkaline catalysts occurs in the following two consecutive steps: dispersion of methanol in the oil and methanolysis. The effect of the alkaline catalysts NaOCH3, KOCH3, NaOH, and KOH in the dispersion step at 30-60 ºC and under mechanical stirring at 400 rpm was evaluated. The dispersion step accounts for 44.6-73.3% of the total synthesis time and was poorly favored compared to methanolysis due to the increase in temperature. The catalysts decreased the dispersion time, although most of them increased the methanol-oil interfacial tension. K-containing catalysts were more active than their Na analogues due to higher adsorption of K+ in the methanol-oil interface and the higher production of methyl esters (which act as emulsifying agents), which promote a more favorable interfacial tension. The alkaline cation effect was more significant in the dispersion step than in the methanolysis step.

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