Stephanie Britton - Challenges of Phosphate and Carbonate Salts as Catalysts for Biodiesel Synthesis

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  Energy Fuels, 2010, 24 (7), pp 4095–4096


  In the search for renewable fuels that can replace   petroleum-based fuels, biodiesel has gained distinction as a   promising solution. Biodiesel is a mixture of fatty acid methyl   esters (FAME) synthesized via the transesterification of   vegetable oils with methanol catalyzed by homogeneous sodium   methoxide. Some progress in developing a solid catalyst has been   made, but these materials do not yet match the effectiveness of   liquid catalysts. This paper discusses the catalytic activity of   tribasic phosphate and dibasic carbonate supported on treated   silica or alumina. A simple method was developed for facilitating   the dispersion of solid catalyst particles in the reaction   mixture. On acid-treated silica, trisodium phosphate proved to be   among the most active catalysts for this reaction, but its   stability as a heterogenous catalyst was shown to be poor. Silica   supports were also shown to be unstable in the presence of the   highly basic methoxide generated during the reaction, suggesting   that silica is unsuitable as a support for any basic catalyst for   FAME production.

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