The advantages of biodiesel as an alterna- tive fuel and the problems involved in its manufactur- ing are outlined. The pros and cons of making biodie- sel via fatty acid esterification using solid acid cata- lysts are examined. The main problem is finding a suitable catalyst that is active, selective, and stable un- der the process conditions. Various solid acids (zeo- lites, ion-exchange resins, and mixed metal oxides) are screened as catalysts in the esterification of do- decanoic acid with 2-ethylhexanol, 1-propanol, and methanol at 130–1808C. The most promising candi- date is found to be sulphated zirconia. The catalyst?s stability towards thermal decomposition and leaching is tested and the effects of the surface composition and structure on the catalytic activity are discussed.
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