A membrane reactor containing an immobilized heterogeneous catalyst is an alternative for traditional homogeneous-based catalyzed transesterification for biodiesel production. Major problems in homogeneous catalysis are related to catalyst recuperation and soap formation, which can be overcome by using heterogeneous catalysts. Conversion can be increased by a combination of reaction and separation, using membranes with a specific pore size. The aim of this work was to study the performance of different membrane reactors combined with heterogeneous catalysis. The main objectives were: to identify a proper catalyst, to choose the proper immobilization technique, to establish the membrane with the adequate pore size, and to control the reaction and separation process. Amberlyst®15 with acid sites and different types of strontium oxide with basic sites were tested as heterogeneous catalysts. Strontium oxide provided the highest sunflower oil conversion (around 93%) and was easy to immobilize. Two catalytic membrane reactor configurations were investigated, thus confirming the production of several types of methyl esters. The configuration comprising the physical immobilization of the catalyst over the membrane reached a methyl ester yield of > 90 wt%.
Bibliographical noteGreen Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.
- Catalytic membrane reactor
- Heterogeneous catalyst
- Sunflower oil