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A more robust model of the biodiesel reaction, allowing identification of process conditions for significantly enhanced rate and water tolerance

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Valentine Eze, Professor Anh Phan, Professor Adam Harvey



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


A more robust kinetic model of base-catalysed transesterification than the conventional reaction scheme has been developed. All the relevant reactions in the base-catalysed transesterification of rapeseed oil (RSO) to fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) were investigated experimentally, and validated numerically in a model implemented using MATLAB. It was found that including the saponification of RSO and FAME side reactions and hydroxide-methoxide equilibrium data explained various effects that are not captured by simpler conventional models. Both the experiment and modelling showed that the "biodiesel reaction" can reach the desired level of conversion (>95%) in less than 2 min. Given the right set of conditions, the transesterification can reach over 95% conversion, before the saponification losses become significant. This means that the reaction must be performed in a reactor exhibiting good mixing and good control of residence time, and the reaction mixture must be quenched rapidly as it leaves the reactor. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Eze VC, Phan AN, Harvey AP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Bioresource Technology

Year: 2014

Volume: 156

Pages: 222-231

Print publication date: 01/03/2014

Online publication date: 23/01/2014

Acceptance date: 08/01/2014

Date deposited: 24/10/2014

ISSN (print): 0960-8524

ISSN (electronic): 1873-2976

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2014.01.028


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