Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Vol.174, No.4, 1484-1495, 2014
Continuous Esterification of Free Fatty Acids in Crude Biodiesel by an Integrated Process of Supercritical Methanol and Sodium Methoxide Catalyst
An integrated process of supercritical methanol (SCM) and sodium methoxide catalyst was developed to produce fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) via continuous esterification from crude biodiesel. The crude biodiesel with high free fatty acid (FFA) content must be refined to reduce the acid value (AV) for meeting the quality standards. The process parameters were studied by Box-Behnken design (BBD) of response surface methodology (RSM). The experimental results revealed that the AV of crude biodiesel decreased from 18.66 to 0.55 mg KOH g(-1) at the reaction conditions of 350 A degrees C, 0.5 % amount of sodium methoxide catalyst, and 10 MPa. Temperature shows the most significant effect on the esterification, followed by pressure and amount of sodium methoxide catalyst. This integrated process proved to be a potential route to refine the crude biodiesel because of its continuity, high efficiency, and less energy consumption with relatively moderate reaction conditions compared with conventional methods.