Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Engineering Science


Chemical and Biochemical Engineering


Dr. Anand Prakash


Commercial production of biodiesel from refined vegetable oils has been widely practiced. However, more economic raw materials are required in order to make biodiesel competitive in the fuel market. This is a challenge since low-cost lipid feedstock contains high concentrations of free fatty acids (FFA) and water, which inhibit transesterification. This work investigates new catalyst combinations and method configuration to develop a cost-effective and suitable process utilizing refined canola oil and canola oil with high oleic acid content. Results suggest that potassium carbonate is more tolerant to water in the feed and enhances phase separation when compared to traditional catalyst, potassium hydroxide. A semi-batch reactor operating mode was tested and compared to conventional batch in two-step esterification-transesterification process to investigate mixing effects. Based on experimental results, esterification conversion close to 99% is achieved by using sulphuric acid as catalyst and a biodiesel yield of 93.6% is obtained after transesterification employing a combination of potassium carbonate and potassium hydroxide as catalysts. Chemical characterization revealed that the two-step process is effective in the production of biodiesel from high FFA feedstock leading to an up to standard quality product.