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Evaluation of Tall Oil as a Feedstock for the Production of Biodiesel

David E. Neaves1, Rafael Hernandez1, Todd French1, and Mark E. Zappi2. (1) Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering, Mississippi State University, 330 Swalm Circle President Dr., Mississippi State University, MS 39762, (2) University of Louisiana at Lafayette, College of Engineering, Lafayette, LA 70504

Biodiesel is becoming a displacement alternative for petroleum diesel. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced from vegetable oils and animal fats. The main feedstock for producing biodiesel in the US is soybean oil. As demand for biodiesel increases, multiple oil feedstocks will have to be established to maintain a large inventory of oil feedstock to ensure stable prices. Tall oil is a by-product of the pulp and paper manufacturing industry. It is currently fractionated and used in commercial products such as: inks, paper sizing agents, and specialty chemicals. The composition of tall oil produced in the southeastern U.S. is roughly 45% free fatty acids. These fatty acids could be used as a feedstock for producing biodiesel. This paper will present the optimization of a process to produce quality biodiesel using tall oil. It will also describe the kinetics of tall oil esterification. The quality of biodiesel was measured using ASTM D 6751 standard methods. The time-course of tall oil conversion into fatty acid methyl esters (biodiesel) was determined via ATR-FTIR, GC-FID, and HPLC-ELSD.