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Title: Epoxidation of Methyl Oleate using Heterogeneous Catalyst

item Doll, Kenneth - Ken
item Erhan, Sevim

Submitted to: Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemical Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/3/2009
Publication Date: 3/4/2009
Citation: Suarez, P.A., Pereira, M.S., Doll, K.M., Sharma, B.K., Erhan, S.Z. 2009. Epoxidation of Methyl Oleate using Heterogeneous Catalyst. Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemical Research. 48:3268-3270.

Interpretive Summary: The uncertainty in supply of petroleum based products and their unfavorable impact on the environment has created a demand for eco-friendly lubricants. Vegetable oils are promising candidates for eco-friendly lubricants, because of the advantages like naturally renewable resource, environmentally safe, and good lubricity. Vegetable oils have some shortcomings like poor low temperature flow properties and oxidation stability, which can be improved by chemical modification. The epoxidized vegetable oil and epoxy fatty acid esters are important intermediates to obtain industrially significant materials, e.g. bio-based polymers, emollients, chemical solvents, fuel additives, and lubricants. This paper presents a study of various solid catalysts for epoxidation of unsaturated fatty acid esters. In this system, higher conversions were obtained with higher amounts of catalyst, reactant, and concentration of the reactant solution. Product yield increased with increasing surface area and decreasing surface acidity of the catalyst. The current approach provides an alternative method to produce an important biobased intermediate, which will improve the agro-economy of the locally grown renewable resource with new markets for soybean oil.

Technical Abstract: In this work we studied the catalytic activity of commercial alumina, and laboratory synthesized alumina doped with Lewis acid metals, in the epoxidation of methyl oleate with aqueous hydrogen peroxide. It was observed that the reaction yields increased when the amount of catalyst, the quantity of hydrogen peroxide, the concentration of the hydrogen peroxide solution, and/or the surface area of the catalyst was increased. Reaction yields were decreased when the surface acidity of the alumina was modified by doping with Lewis acid metals.