Esterification of fatty acids from waste cooking oil to biodiesel over a sulfonated resin/PVA composite
Zhang, Honglei and Gao, Jiarui and Zhao, Zengdian and Chen, George Zheng and Wu, Tao and He, Feng (2016) Esterification of fatty acids from waste cooking oil to biodiesel over a sulfonated resin/PVA composite. Catalysis Science and Technology, 2016 (6). pp. 5590-5598. ISSN 2044-4761
Sulfonated cation exchange resins (s-CERs) have been widely studied as a replacement of liquid acids for the catalysis of esterification of free fatty acids (FFAs) to produce biodiesel with water as the only by-product. However, the water produced has strong affinity to sulfonate groups in s-CERs, which block the reactive sites for esterification and thus reduce the activity of a catalyst. To overcome this technical barrier, we have designed an s-CER/PVA composite by incorporating s-CER fines within a poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) matrix. PVA has a much stronger absorption preference for water than s-CERs and has very low selectivity for reactants (FFAs and methanol), which enables continuous removal of the produced water and liberation of reactive sulfonate sites in s-CERs for catalysis. With s-CER/PVA, FFA conversion was increased from 80.1% to 97.5% after an 8-hour reaction and the turnover frequency (TOF) was increased more than 3.3 times. The TOF of s-CER/PVA was also 2.6 times higher than that of sulfuric acid, suggesting that water-less, heterogeneous sulfonate sites are more reactive than water-blocked homogeneous ones. The reusability of s-CER/PVA was also enhanced due to the fact that the produced water that could cause deactivation of the s-CERs was largely removed by PVA.
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