281133 Honeycomb Monolithic Catalysts for the Production of Biodiesel Fuels From Canola Oil

Thursday, November 1, 2012: 1:30 PM
320 (Convention Center )
Jonathan C. Mbah1, Kyung C. Kwon1 and Nader Vahdat2, (1)Chemical Engineering, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL, (2)chemical engineering, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL

Crude vegetable oils containing triglycerides of various fatty acids and free fatty acids are very viscous and have low heating values. Transesterification techniques are used to reduce viscosity of crude vegetable oils and increase slightly their heating values comparable with petroleum diesel fuel.  Biodiesel fuels produced via transesterifcation processes with homogeneous alkali catalysts contain undesirable substances such as soap and homogeneous catalysts in addition to glycerol and water.  Various unit operations are needed to remove these undesirable substances from biodiesel so that production costs of biodiesel are incomparable with those of petroleum diesel.  Biodiesel will be produced with feedstocks such as methanol and canola oil chosen as a representative vegetable oil, using honeycomb heterogeneous monolithic catalysts at moderate temperatures and pressures.

Triglycerides in vegetable oils should be processed economically via transesterification to improve their properties as biodiesel fuels comparable with petroleum diesel. Crude canola oil will be transesterified with methanol and formulated monolithic catalysts, using a honeycomb monolithic catalyst flow reactor.  Active and stable monolithic catalysts will be formulated with various active metals and honeycomb monolithic catalyst supports to reduce viscosity and improve slightly heating values of biodiesel from crude canola oil via a transesterification process.

Flow reactors with honeycomb monolithic catalysts have some advantages over flow reactors packed/fluidized with catalyst pellets for the transesterification of vegetable oils.  Pressure drops will be lower over flow reactors with monolithic catalysts than those packed with pellet catalysts.  High uniform mass transfer rates of methanol and vegetable oils to porous surface of solid catalysts will occur in channels of monolithic catalysts in comparison with packed catalyst pellets. Formulated honeycomb monolithic catalysts are deactivated and regenerated repeatedly during converting canola oil in methanol to biodiesel in a vertical honeycomb monolithic catalyst flow reactor.

The objective of this research is to formulate honeycomb heterogeneous monolithic catalysts for the production of biodiesel via efficient transesterification of canola oil as a representative vegetable oil with the following specific aims:


  1. Formulate honeycomb monolith catalysts for the conversion of canola oil to biodiesel.
  2. Design and fabricate a small-scale honeycomb monolithic catalyst flow reactor assembly for the conversion of canola oil to biodiesel.
  3. Produce biodiesel in a fabricated small-scale honeycomb monolithic catalyst flow reactor at various operation conditions, and generate transesterification data for the evaluation of catalytic activities of formulated monolithic catalysts.
  4. Characterize physical and chemical properties of biodiesel produced from canola oil and methanol with a liquid chromatograph, a gas chromatograph and a viscometer.
  5. Delineate mechanisms on in-situ deactivation and regeneration of formulated honeycomb monolithic catalysts.
  6. Determine effects of active metal clusters on catalytic activities and catalyst stability of formulated honeycomb monolithic catalysts

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See more of this Session: Alternative Fuels II
See more of this Group/Topical: Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division