Zirconium Sulfate as Catalyst for Biodiesel Production by Using Reactive Distillation


Production of fatty acid esters (biodiesel) from oleic acid and 2-ethylhexanol using sulfated zirconia as solid catalyst for the production of biodiesel was investigated in this work. The parameters studied were temperature of reaction (100 to 130°C), molar ratio of alcohol to free fatty acid (1:1 to 3:1), concentration of catalyst (0.5 to 3%wt), mixing speed (500 to 900 rpm) and types of sulfated zirconia (i.e modified, commercial, prepared catalyst according to literature and reused catalyst). The results show the best conversion to biodiesel was 97.74% at conditions of 130°C, 3:1, 2wt% and 650 rpm using modified catalyst respectively. Also, modified catalyst gave identical results to that of commercial one. Simulation study was adopted from basic principles of reactive distillation and the results were close to an acceptable degree.