An international scientific team, with the participation of scientists from the University of MISIS, has synthesized an effective industrial catalyst to produce biofuels, making it possible to obtain it faster and at low temperatures, the Asian Journal of Chemistry reported.
The pace of growing environmental problems and the simultaneous global energy crisis motivate scientists worldwide to look for alternative ways to generate energy actively.
An excellent example of renewable energy is biodiesel, a liquid motor biofuel that can help offset the growing demand for green energy.
Biodiesel has a number of advantages over hydrocarbon fuels: it is safer, non-toxic, biodegradable and contains a minimum amount of sulfur and its compounds. It is more oxygenated than conventional mineral diesel fuel and burns more efficiently in the engine, thus resulting in less hydrocarbon, CO2 and toxic emissions.
The presence of oxygen also increases the lubricity of the fuel, which prolongs the life of the engine. In addition, it has a higher cetane number and flash point.
Biodiesel is a mixture of fatty acid esters that can be sourced from various vegetable oils or animal fats. In the US and Europe, biodiesel is made from edible oils such as sunflower or soybean, while in India, non-edible oils from plants such as jatropha and karanjia are used.
Biodiesel is obtained by the reaction of esterification with monohydric alcohols – methanol, ethanol, and others.
The so-called heterogeneous catalyst plays a vital role in biodiesel production at the industrial level.
During a chemical reaction, vegetable oil or another source of triglycerides in the presence of a catalyst reacts with monohydric alcohols, forming biodiesel and glycerol in the final.
In the presented scientific work, scientists used wollastonite, a mineral from the class of silicates, natural calcium silicate, as a catalyst for the first time.
The transesterification reaction of soybean oil with methanol was carried out to assess the catalytic ability of the obtained wollastonite. The wollastonite was synthesized by auto-combustion, with L-alanine used as a fuel for combustion. After the reaction, the biodiesel, glycerol and catalyst were separated by centrifugation.
To optimize the percentage of catalysts used in biodiesel production, we carried out several experiments with catalysts of different qualities.
“In the end, we concluded that the alkali metal oxide and silica in the composition of wollastonite helped in the production of biodiesel (82.6 percent) in less time and at a lower temperature,” said Rajan Chowdhary, one of the authors of the study, a researcher at MISIS University.
Currently, the research team continues to optimize the resulting catalyst for industrial use.