Catalysis Today, Vol.332, 122-131, 2019
Profiling and catalytic upgrading of commercial palm oil-derived biodiesel fuels for high-blend fuels
Commercial palm oil-derived biodiesel fuels (palm BDFs) were thoroughly profiled based on the specifications of international fuel standards. Their main components were found to be fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) with different numbers of double bonds in the fatty acid tails in addition to small amounts of unreactive glycerides and impurities, the concentrations of which varied slightly among the regional producers in Thailand. The fuel properties of the as-received commercial palm BDFs met international fuel standards; unfortunately, the fuel degraded significantly over time, presumably due to the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acid methyl esters (poly-FAME) and impurities. To prevent this degradation, the commercial palm BDFs were upgraded into partially hydrogenated fatty acid methyl esters with outstanding oxidation stability (H-FAME, a new type of biodiesel fuel enriched in monounsaturated fatty acid methyl esters (mono-FAME)) over supported Pd catalysts with metallic Pd nanoparticles as the catalytically active sites in a batch-type glass reactor under mild conditions (80 degrees C and 0.5 MPa H-2). In the upgrading process, the unwanted component poly-FAME, which had low oxidation stability, was selectively converted into the target component, mono-FAME with high oxidation stability. Although the impurities in the commercial palm BDFs poisoned the supported Pd catalysts, particularly the sulfur species, the homemade mesoporous silica-supported Pd catalyst with a high Pd dispersion of 47% gave higher activity and tolerance to the impurities in the synthesis of palm H-FAMEs than the commercial alumina-supported Pd catalyst, which had a low Pd dispersion of 16%. In the accelerated oxidation stability test, the B20 fuels formulated by blending petro-diesel with the palm H-FAMEs with enhanced oxidation stability produced almost no deposits or sludges, whereas the fuels formulated by blending petro-diesel with commercial palm BDFs were seriously degraded and acidified, and formed deposits and sludges. Moreover, the palm H-FAMEs could be further purified by selective removal of the monoglycerides (MG) and steryl glucosides (SG) through wintering and adsorption posttreatments, and were determined to be a reliable BDF source with high safety and security for use in high blend fuels.