A series of alkali-doped metal oxide catalysts were prepared and evaluated for activity in the transesterification of rapeseed oil to biodiesel. Of those evaluated, LiNO3/CaO, NaNO3/CaO, KNO3/CaO and LiNO3/MgO exhibited >90% conversion in a standard 3 h test. There was a clear correlation between base strength and activity. These catalysts appeared to be promising candidates to replace conventional homogeneous catalysts for biodiesel production as the reaction times are low enough to be practical in continuous processes and the preparations are neither prohibitively difficult nor costly. However, metal leaching from the catalyst was detected, and this resulted in some homogeneous activity. This would have to be resolved before these catalysts would be viable for large-scale biodiesel production facilities.
Bibliographical noteFunding: EPSRC
- renewable fuel
- heterogeneous catalysis
- process intensification