Biodiesel production using solid metal oxide catalysts|
Biodiesel production is worthy of continued study and optimization of production procedures due to its environmentally beneficial attributes and its renewable nature. Heterogeneous transesterification is considered to be a green process. The process requires neither catalyst recovery nor aqueous treatment steps and very high yields of methyl esters can be obtained, close to the theoretical value. However, heterogeneously catalyzed transesterification generally requires more severe operating conditions, and the performance of heterogeneous catalysts is generally lower than that of the commonly used homogeneous catalysts. Heterogeneous catalysis for biodiesel production has been extensively investigated in the last few years. Many metal oxides have been studied for the transesterification process of oils; these include alkali earth metal oxides, transition metal oxides, mixed metal oxides and supported metal oxides. The use of solid metal oxides as catalysts in oil transesterification is well established, accordingly, researchers' attempts are now focused on how to attain the highest catalyst activity. Catalyst activity is a function of its specific surface area, base strength and base site concentration. High specific surface area, strong base strength and high concentration of base sites are characteristics of an active transesterification catalyst. This review provides a brief overview of the different metal oxides frequently used in the process of transesterification of oils for the production of biodiesel with special reference to the various methods of catalyst preparation and catalyst characterization. Reaction conditions and catalyst leaching analysis are also highlighted. Finally, concluding remarks regarding catalyst selection and catalyst preparation steps are provided.
Catalyst characterization; Catalyst preparation; Catalyst selection; Heterogeneous catalysis; Leaching; Transesterification