ISSN: 1659-2751

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Methodology for the Production of Biodiesel from African Palm Oil (Elais guineensis) and Used Soybean Oil

Abstract

The main objective of this study was to develop a methodology to synthesize biodiesel from refined and crude African palm oil, as well as from used soybean cooking oil. Biodiesel, a fuel synthesized from vegetable oil, can be used as a substitute for fossil fuel sources and has the advantage that it is derived from a renewable resource. Biodiesel is obtained by the reaction of the vegetable oil with an alcohol in the presence of a catalyst (hydroxyl compound) in the chemical process transesterification. A total of 15 trials evaluating different oils, alcohols and catalysts were conducted. Two possible methodologies were developed, one using methanol and sodium hydroxide (Method A) and the other using methanol, sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide (Method B). It was possible to use either method to synthesize biodiesel from either refined African palm oil or used soybean cooking oil. However, more biodiesel was produced using Method B due to the fact that the fatty acids in the oils were first converted to esters in a process of esterfication, before subjecting the oils to the transesterfication process. The results showed that the biodiesel produced complied with 70 % of the standards for biofuels as required by American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM). This means that the biodiesel produced is of an adequate quality for use in agricultural machinery.

Key words: Vegetable oil, free fatty acids, alcohol, biodiesel, catalyst, esterification, hydrocarbons, African palm, soap formation, transesterification.

Artículo en español (pdf) (1976)