Chemical Engineering Research & Design, Vol.165, 456-466, 2021
Production of biolubricants from soybean oil: Studies for an integrated process with the current biodiesel industry
The competitiveness of the biodiesel industry may be improved by adding value through co-products and integration with the oleochemical industry, especially for novel products such as biolubricants, a product of increasing world demand. In this study the synthesis of biolubricants from soybean oil was evaluated using transesterification, epoxidation and oxirane ring opening reactions. Water, 2-ethylhexanol and their mixtures were used to obtain hydroxyl-rich and/or ether-type branched molecules. All chemical modifications were monitored by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (H-1 NMR) and evaluated through the physicochemical properties of the products. Several potential biolubricant samples were synthesized with viscosities at 40 degrees C ranging from 26.6 to 99.6 cSt, viscosity index from 26 to 139, densities at 20 degrees C from 0.925 to 0.964 g/cm(3), and pour points from -3 to -12 degrees C. From these results, a proposal of a feasible industrial process for the production of biolubricants from soybean oil is presented, consisting of 16 units, of which 15 may be integrated with an existing biodiesel plant. (C) 2020 Institution of Chemical Engineers. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.