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Biorefinery approach for coconut oil valorisation: A statistical study

Bouaid, Abderrahim, Martínez, Mercedes, Aracil, José
Bioresource technology 2010 v.101 no.11 pp. 4006-4012
Cocos nucifera, coconut oil, vegetable oil, biorefining, transesterification, biodiesel, renewable energy sources, dodecanoic acid
The biorefinery approach, consisting in transesterification using methanol and potassium hydroxide as catalyst, has been used to assess coconut oil valorisation. Due to the fatty acid composition of coconut oil, low (LMWME) and high (HMWME) molecular weight fatty acid methyl esters were obtained. Methyl laurate (78.30 wt.%) is the major component of the low molecular weight fraction. The influence of variables such as temperature and catalyst concentration on the production of both fractions has been studied and optimized by means of factorial design and response surface methodology (RSM). Two separate optimum conditions were found to be a catalyst concentration of 0.9% and 1% and an operation temperature of 42.5°C and 57°C for LMWME and HMWME, respectively, obtaining conversion rates of 77.54% and 25.41%. The valuable components of LMWME may be recovered for sale as biolubricants or biosolvents, the remaining fraction could be used as biodiesel, matching the corresponding European Standard.