Title page for ETD etd-07022010-171816

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Abdoulmoumine, Nourredine
URN etd-07022010-171816
Title Sulfate and Hydroxide Supported on Zirconium Oxide Catalysts for Biodiesel Production
Degree Master of Science
Department Biological Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Agblevor, Foster Aryi Committee Chair
Achenie, Luke E. Committee Co-Chair
Wen, Zhiyou Committee Member
  • Biodiesel
  • heterogeneous catalysis
  • transesterification
  • esterification
  • zirconium oxide
  • sulfated zirconium
  • hydroxide zirconium
Date of Defense 2010-06-18
Availability unrestricted
Biodiesel is currently produced by homogeneous catalysis. More recently however, heterogeneous catalysis is being considered as a cheaper alternative to the homogeneous process. In this research project, heterogeneous catalysts of zirconium oxide were produced by impregnation.

Zirconium oxide impregnation with sulfuric acid produced acidic solid catalysts. It was determined that impregnation and calcination at 550oC (SO4/ZrO2-550oC) produced the best catalyst for palmitic acid esterification with 10 wt % as the optimum concentration in esterification of palmitic acid. SO4/ZrO2-550oC was successfully recycled for eight consecutive runs before permanent deactivation. Its sulfur content was 1.04 wt % using SEM-EDS and 2.05 wt % using XPS for characterization. BET surface area was 90.89 m2/g. The reaction mechanism over Brønsted acid (SO4/ZrO2-550oC) and Lewis acid (Al2O3) catalysts obeyed Eley-Rideal kinetics with palmitic acid and methanol adsorbed on the active site respectively.

Zirconium oxide was also impregnated with sodium hydroxide to produce basic catalysts. The best catalyst was produced when zirconium oxide was impregnated with 1.5 M NaOH and calcined at 600oC. Soybean oil was completely converted to biodiesel with 10 wt % catalyst and 1:6 oil to methanol. A mixture of the base catalyst with 30 wt % SO4/ZrO2-550oC effectively converted soybean oil containing 5% oleic acid indicating that this mixture could be used for waste oils. The reaction was first order with respect to triglyceride and second order with respect to methanol. The activation energy was 49.35 kJ/mol and the reaction mechanism obeyed Langmuir-Hinshelwood kinetics.

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