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Continuous flow through a microwave oven for the large-scale production of biodiesel from waste cooking oil

Tangy, Alex, Pulidindi, Indra Neel, Perkas, Nina, Gedanken, Aharon
Bioresource technology 2017 v.224 pp. 333-341
biodiesel, catalysts, cooking fats and oils, mass flow, nanoparticles, silica, transesterification
This report presents a method for producing large quantities of biodiesel from waste cooking oil (WCO). Preliminary studies on optimization of the WCO transesterification process in a continuous-flow microwave reactor are carried out using commercial SrO as a catalyst. The SrO catalyst can be separated and reused for five reaction cycles without loss in activity. Challenges like mass flow and pressure drop constraints need to be surmounted. SrO nanoparticles deposited on millimeter-sized (3–6mm) silica beads (41wt% SrO/SiO2) are prepared and evaluated as a substitute for the SrO catalyst. A WCO conversion value to biodiesel as high as 99.2wt% was achieved with the reactor packed with 15g of 41wt% SrO/SiO2 catalyst in 8.2min with 820mL of feed. Excellent performance of the fixed-bed catalyst without loss in activity for a lifetime of 24.6min converting a feed of 2.46L to FAME was observed.