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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Bio-oils Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #392253

Research Project: New High-Value Biobased Materials with Applications Across Industry

Location: Bio-oils Research

Title: Palm fatty acid distillate esterification using synthesized heterogeneous sulfonated carbon catalyst from plastic waste: Characterization, catalytic efficacy and stability, and fuel properties

item HAZMI, BALKIS - Universiti Putra Malaysia
item RASHID, UMER - Universiti Putra Malaysia
item KAWI, SIBUDJING - National University Of Singapore
item MOKHTAR, WAN N.A.W. - Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
item YAW, THOMAS C.S. - Universiti Putra Malaysia
item Moser, Bryan
item ALSALME, ALI - King Saud University

Submitted to: Process Safety and Environmental Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2022
Publication Date: 5/5/2022
Citation: Hazmi, B., Rashid, U., Kawi, S., Mokhtar, W.N.A.W., Yaw, T.C.S., Moser, B.R., Alsalme, A. 2022. Palm fatty acid distillate esterification using synthesized heterogeneous sulfonated carbon catalyst from plastic waste: Characterization, catalytic efficacy and stability, and fuel properties. Process Safety and Environmental Protection. 162:1139-1151.

Interpretive Summary: Disadvantages of biodiesel include utilization of edible oils for fuel production, generation of wastewater, and inability to recycle catalysts from the production process. The objective of this study was to utilize waste plastic food containers to produce a new catalyst for production of biodiesel from inexpensive, low-quality feedstocks. This research revealed that the biodiesel produced from palm fatty acid distillate was acceptable as an alternative, low-cost, non-food alternative to conventional diesel fuel. This research also revealed that a new catalyst, plastic waste char-supported sulfonated acid catalyst, has important advantages over currently used catalysts for commercial production of biodiesel, which are the ability to recover the catalyst and use it again and less wastewater generation. Overall, the properties of the resulting biodiesel were comparable to that of soybean-based biodiesel, thus indicating its acceptability as a new source of biodiesel fuel. These results will be important to biodiesel producers, distributors, and end-users (customers) because a new biodiesel fuel and a new catalyst were described that have favorable properties. This research may ultimately improve market penetration, availability, and public perception of renewable agricultural fuels such as biodiesel, thus enhancing rural economies while affording greater national independence from petroleum-based fuels.

Technical Abstract: The extensive use of plastics in industries and households contributes to the proliferation of plastic waste (PW) in landfills, the oceans, and the environment, which represents a serious threat to numerous fragile ecosystems. Recycling rates for PW are still low, so solutions to the problem of waste accumulation are urgently needed. We report the transformation of waste polyethylene terephthalate food containers into plastic waste char (PWC) via anaerobic pyrolysis and subsequent conversion to an acidic solid catalyst for conversion of palm fatty acid distillate (PFAD) into biodiesel. Such an approach could provide a promising solution to the environmental issue of PW while simultaneously facilitating production of biofuels. In this study, PW was carbonized at 600 °C to yield a carbon precursor that was subsequently treated with sulfuric acid at three sulfonation ratios (1:10, 1:15 and 1:20) to give a series of solid acid sulfonated carbon catalysts, PWC-SO3H (a), (b) and (c). The synthesized PWC-SO3H catalysts were thermally stable up to 375 °C. The deposition of sulfonic acid groups onto the catalytic surface was confirmed by infrared spectroscopy. Surface morphology analysis revealed a mesoporous textural structure with random sulfonate group distribution. Changes in crystallinity for PWC and PWC-SO3H catalysts were determined by x-ray diffraction spectroscopy and supported by Raman analysis. The catalysts were then evaluated for biodiesel production efficacy via esterification of PFAD with methanol. The PWC-SO3H (b) catalyst (1:15 impregnation ratio) provided the highest yield of PFAD-derived-biodiesel (96.9%) under the optimum reaction conditions of 5 wt% catalyst at 110 °C for 2 h with a methanol to PFAD molar ratio of 18:1. Recyclability studies revealed that the PWC-SO3H (b) catalyst was reusable for four consecutive reactions while maintaining high catalytic activity. Lastly, the fuel properties of the resulting PFAD biodiesel were within the limits prescribed in ASTM D6751, the American biodiesel standard.