Biodiesel production from high FFA rubber seed oil
Currently, most of the biodiesel is produced from the refined/edible type oils using methanol and an alkaline catalyst. However, large amount of non-edible type oils and fats are available. The difficulty with alkaline-esterification of these oils is that they often contain large amounts of free fatty acids (FFA). These free fatty acids quickly react with the alkaline catalyst to produce soaps that inhibit the separation of the ester and glycerin. A two-step transesterification process is developed to convert the high FFA oils to its mono-esters. The first step, acid catalyzed esterification reduces the FFA content of the oil to less than 2%. The second step, alkaline catalyzed transesterification process converts the products of the first step to its mono-esters and glycerol. The major factors affect the conversion efficiency of the process such as molar ratio, amount of catalyst, reaction temperature and reaction duration is analyzed. The two-step esterification procedure converts rubber seed oil to its methyl esters. The viscosity of biodiesel oil is nearer to that of diesel and the calorific value is about 14% less than that of diesel. The important properties of biodiesel such as specific gravity, flash point, cloud point and pour point are found out and compared with that of diesel. This study supports the production of biodiesel from unrefined rubber seed oil as a viable alternative to the diesel fuel. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.