NC State
Sani, Y. M., Raji, A. O., Alaba, P. A., Aziz, A. R. A., and Wan Daud, W. M. A. (2015). "Palm frond and spikelet as environmentally benign alternative solid acid catalysts for biodiesel production," BioRes. 10(2), 3393-3408.


A carbonization-sulfonation method was utilized in synthesizing sulfonated mesoporous catalysts from palm tree biomass. Brunauer-Emmet-Teller (BET), powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), energy dispersive X-ray (EDX), and field emission scanning emission microscopy (FE-SEM) analyses were used to evaluate the structural and textural properties of the catalysts. Further, Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy and titrimetric analyses measured the strong acid value and acidity distribution of the materials. These analyses indicated that the catalysts had large mesopore volume, large surface area, uniform pore size, and high acid density. The catalytic activity exhibited by esterifying used frying oil (UFO) containing high (48%) free fatty acid (FFA) content further indicated these properties. All catalysts exhibited high activity, with sPTS/400 converting more than 98% FFA into fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs). The catalyst exhibited the highest acid density, 1.2974 mmol/g, determined by NaOH titration. This is outstanding considering the lower reaction parameters of 5 h, 5:1 methanol-to-oil ratio, and a moderate temperature range between 100 and 200 °C. The study further illustrates the prospect of converting wastes into highly efficient, benign, and recyclable solid acid catalysts.
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