Number of Pages: 61

File Size: 66 KB

File Type: MS Word & PDF

Chapters: 1 - 5




In the wake of rising prices and unstable supply besides environmental issues, renewed attention has been paid to shifting away from the use of petroleum based fuels. The world’s energy demand is commencing its dependency on alternative fuels. Such alternative fuels in use today consist of bio-alcohols (such as ethanol), biomass, and natural oil/fat-derived fuels. In search for new energy sources, much attention is focused on biodiesel as a reliable and renewable resource that is to satisfy a significant part of the energy demands (Fan et al., 2009).

Currently, biodiesel is considered a promising alternative due to its renewability, better gas emissions, non toxicity and its biodegradability (Akbar et al., 2009). Biodiesel is defined as mono alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids derived from vegetable oils or animal fats (Knothe et al., 2002). The term ‘mono alkyl esters’ indicates that biodiesel contains only one ester linkage in each molecule. Plant oils and animal fats (triglycerides) contain three ester linkages between fatty acids and glycerol which makes them more viscous.

Generally, it has been observed that transesterification of triglycerides to alkyl esters (biodiesel) generates a mixture that approximates the properties and performance of petroleum diesel fuel, which allows it to be used directly as substitute fuel without modifications or as blending agents for diesel fuel (Bello and Makanju, 2011).

Various vegetable oils are potential feedstock for the production of fatty methyl esters or biodiesel but the quality of the fuel is affected by the oil composition (Akbar et al., 2009). Research results abound in literature on the production of biodiesel through transesterification of edible and non edible oil from different parts of the world (Abayeh et al., 2007; Berchmans and Hirata, 2008) The production of biodiesel from edible vegetable oils has progressively stressed food uses, price, production and availability of oils (Rashid et al., 2008). New oil-seed crops that do not compete with traditional food crops are needed to meet existing energy demands (Xu and Hanna, 2008). In Nigeria, there is an abundance of oil seeds that are relatively unexplored (Abayeh et al., 2007; Eze, 2012), with no competing food uses.


The recent research developments in the exploitation of biodiesel provide a reliable platform for adoption of biodiesel as an alternative energy source. The following could be key reasons to adopt and promote biodiesel production and research;

1.1.1 Availability of feed-stocks

The availability of vast biodiesel resources which include crude oil from avocado pear fruit, Beni seed, soybean, castor seed, cotton seed etc has a reliable potential for production of biodiesel that will immensely help in its utilization an alternative energy source.

1.1.2 Global warming

Another key justifiable reason for embracing and promoting the use of biodiesel is Global warming. This is the increase in the average temperature of the atmosphere, oceans and land mass of the earth (Iduyisi et al, 2012)

Environment Researchers have found out that global warming is humanly induced. Its chief cause includes burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas by automobiles which continually release carbon dioxide, oxides of nitrogen etc into the atmosphere. According to UNDP 2007/2008 Human Development Report, the world temperature has increased around 0.70C since the advent of industrialization and the rate is skyrocketing yearly. It is argued that bio-fuel is environment friendly because carbon dioxide released from burning bio-fuels is balanced by carbon dioxide intake by growing plants from where bio-fuels are made.

1.1.3 Greenhouse effect

Biodiesel has the ability to reduce green house gas emissions when compared to those of fossil fuels. Greenhouse effect is the process that occurs when atmospheric greenhouse gases absorb thermal radiation and re-radiates in all direction, leading to the average increase in the surface temperature. Carbon dioxide emitted by engines is the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions. Burning of biodiesel produces carbon dioxide just as fossil fuels but the former is more advantageous as the carbon dioxide released from burning biodiesel is balanced by carbon dioxide intake by growing plants from where biodiesel are made through the process of photosynthesis.

1.1.4 Pollution

Biodiesel has a higher cetane rating than fossil fuels do. As a result, biodiesel has a higher performance and clean up emissions. When compared to petro diesel, biodiesel contains fewer aromatic hydrocarbons. It has it capacity of reducing direct tailpipe emission of particulates to the environment.

1.1.5 Safety and stability

Biodiesel is safer to handle than petroleum diesel fuel because of its low volatility. Due to thehigh energy content of all liquid fuels, there is a danger of accidental ignition when the fuel isbeing stored, transported or transferred. The possibility of having an accidental ignition is relatedin part to the temperature at which the fuel will create enough vapours to ignite, known as theflash point temperature. The lower the flash point of a fuel, the lower the temperature at which itwill form a combustible mixture (Adebayo et al., 2011). For example, petroleum diesel has aflash point of 640C, which means that it can form a combustible mixture at temperature as lowas 640C. Biodiesel on the other hand has a flash point of over 1500C, meaning it cannot form acombustible mixture until it is heated well above the boiling point of water (Rodriques-Acosta etal., 2010). It is rare that biodiesel fuel is subjected to these types of condition, making biodieselquite safe to store, handle and transport. Biodiesel is therefore classified as a non-flammableliquid.

1.2 Disadvantages of biodiesel

Although the advantages make biodiesel seem very appealing, there are also some disadvantageswhen using biodiesel. Due to the high oxygen content, it releases relatively high NOx levelsduring combustion. But this can be reduced to below petroleum diesel levels by adjusting enginetiming and using a catalytic converter (Rao, 2011). Storage conditions of biodiesel must bemonitored strictly as biodiesel has a lower oxidative stability (Afolabi, 2008). Biodiesel haslower temperature flow properties than petroleum diesel which means it will crystallize into a gelat low temperatures when used in its pure form (Abayeh et al., 2007). Biodiesel is also moresusceptible to degradation, which is promoted by the presence of oxygen, high temperatures, andthe presence of certain metals (Leiner, 1980).


Bio-diesel is the mono alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids obtained when vegetable oil is converted by the process of transesterification which meets the registration for fuels and fuel additives established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and American Standard of Testing and Materials (ASTM). (Radich, 2003).

This involves the reaction between triglyceride and methanol to give the fatty acid methyl ester (biodiesel) and glycerol.

Biodiesel and petroleum diesel are not chemically similar. Biodiesel is composed of long-chainmethyl esters, whereas petroleum diesel is a mixtureof aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons thatcontain approximately 10 – 15 carbons. Because biodiesel and petroleum diesel have differingchemical compositions, they have differing fuel properties.


The performance of an ester as diesel fuel depends on the chemical composition of the ester,particularly on the length of carbon chain and the degree of saturation (and unsaturation) of fattyacid molecules (Rao, 2011). There are three main types of fatty acids that can be present in atriglyceride which are saturated (Cn: 0), monounsaturated (Cn: 1), and polyunsaturated with two orthree double bonds (Cn: 2, 3).

From a chemical point of view, oils from different sources have different fatty acid compositions.The fatty acids are different in relation to the chain length, degree of unsaturation or presence ofother chemical functions (Pinto et al., 2005). The relative amounts of the five fatty acids (palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic) common in most vegetable oils and animal fatsdetermine the physical and chemical properties of the oils and the fuel derived from them(Gerpen, 2004).Transesterification does not alter the fatty acid composition of the feedstock and thiscomposition plays an important role in some critical parameters of biodiesel, such as cetanenumber and cold flow properties. Good oil for biodiesel production must be rich in long chain and low level unsaturated fatty acid. (Pintoet al., 2005).


Biodiesel can be used as a blend component in petroleum in any proportion because it iscompletely miscible with ultra low sulphur diesel fuel (ULSD). Once mixed, the blend willexhibit properties different from neat biodiesel or petroleum fuels. Specifically, the mostimportant fuel properties influenced by blending of biodiesel with petroleum are lubricity,exhaust emissions, CN, flash point, oxidative stability, low-temperature operability, kinematicviscosity, and energy content (Moser, 2009).

Biodiesel can be used in its pure form, also known as neat biodiesel or B100. This is theapproach that provides the most reduction in exhaust particles, unburned hydrocarbons andcarbon monoxide. This approach is used in countries like Austria and Germany. It is the best wayto use biodiesel when its non-toxicity and biodegradability are important.

Biodiesel can also be used as a blend. Typically this can range from 5% to 50% biodiesel in 95%to 50% petroleum diesel and is known as B5, B10 etc depending on the blend. Blends reduce thecost impact of biodiesel while retaining some of the emission reductions. Most of thesereductions appear to be proportional to the percentage of biodiesel used (Friedrich, 2003).

Biodiesel can also be used as an additive (1% – 2%) and is known as B1 or B2. Tests for lubricity have shown that biodiesel is a very effective lubricity enhancer. Even as little as 0.25% can havea measurable impact and 1% – 2% is enough to convert a very poor lubricity fuel into anacceptable fuel. Although these levels are too low to have any impact on the CN of the fuel or theemissions from the engine, the lubricity provides a significant advantage at a modest cost(Friedrich, 2003).

Blending petroleum diesel fuel with esters of vegetable oils is presently the most common formof biodiesel. The most common ratio is 80% petroleum diesel and 20% biodiesel also termed“B20”, indicating 20% level of biodiesel. There are numerous reports that significant emissionreductions are achieved with these blends (Knothe, 2001).


Conventional diesel is produced by the distillation of crude oil collecting middle distillatefractions in the range of 175 – 370° C (Scragg, 2003). Diesel fuel typically contains over 400distinct types of organic compounds which includes approximately 80% (vol.) of saturatedhydrocarbons (primarily paraffin’s, the straight chain hydrocarbons) and 20% of aromatichydrocarbons (naphthalene’s, the cyclic hydrocarbons and alkyl benzenes) (Rao, 2011). Thesaturated hydrocarbons include approximately 44% of n-paraffin, 29% of i-paraffin and 7% ofnaphthalene as shown below.

Fig 1: composition of petroleum diesel fuel

Source Rao, 2011

Carbon numbers of these hydrocarbons range from 12 – 18 (Singhand Singh, 2010). The aromatics are a class of hydrocarbons (HCs) that are characterized bystable chemical structures. The aromatics containing multiple benzene rings are known as polyaromatichydrocarbons (PAH’s). The aromatics include polycyclic aromatic compoundscontaining 2, 3 4 and 5 fused benzene rings and the benzene will act as nuclei for the growth ofundesirable shoot. Aromatics are considered desirable by compression ignition (CI) engineoperators because they provide greater energy per litre of diesel fuel, however they maycontribute to higher emissions of particulate matter (PM), and NOx, and have lower cetane number.

Some types of feedstock require pretreatment before they can go through the transesterification process. Feedstock with less than 4% free fatty acids such as most plant oils and some food grade animal fats do not require pretreatment. However, feedstock with more than 4% fatty acid requires pretreatment using an acid esterification process. These include inedible animal fats and recycled greases. In this pretreatment step, the feedstock is reacted with an alcohol (like methanol) in the presence of a strong acid catalyst (like sulphuric acid) to convert the free fatty acid into biodiesel. The remaining triglycerides are then converted to biodiesel through the usual transesterification reaction.

The complete process for the production of methyl ester from plant oil and other feedstock therefore involves basically five steps: acid esterification, transesterification, methanol recovery, biodiesel refining, and glycerin refining (Filemon et al, 2010).

Acid esterification: The oil feedstock containing more than 4% free fatty acids is usually pretreated using an acid esterification process in order to increase the yield of biodiesel. The feedstock is first filtered and then pre-processed to remove water and other contaminants such as unwanted solids. The pretreated oil is then fed to the acid esterification process. The catalyst, sulfuric acid, is dissolved in methanol and the mixed with the pretreated oil. The mixture is heated and stirred, and the free fatty acids are converted to biodiesel. Once the reaction is complete, it is dewatered and then fed to the transesterification process.

Transesterification: Transesterification is the general term used to describe the important class of organic reactionswhere an ester is transformed into another ester by interchange of the alkoxy moiety (Rafaat etal., 2008). In this process, an alcohol reacts with triglycerides in the presence of catalyst.

The main purpose of transesterification is to reduce the viscosity of oil in order to achieveproperties that are more suitable for its function as a fuel (Hossain et al., 2010), a catalyst isusually used to improve the reaction rate and yield (Singh and Singh, 2010). Excess alcohol isused for shifting the equilibrium toward the product because of the reversible nature of thereaction(Shereena and Thangaraj, 2009).The alkyl esters produced depend on the alcohol used, where methanol and ethanol are mostly used. Osai (2011), in his comparative studies on the effect of different alcohols on biodiesel yieldachieved high conversions of 90%, 85%, and 81% by reacting fluted pumpkin oil with methanol,ethanol and propanol respectively. In another study by Berchmans and Hirata (2008), 90%methyl ester yield was obtained through an alkali catalyzed transesterification process usingJatropha curcas seed oil.

Transesterification has turned out to be an ideal modification process for biodiesel production(Demirbas, 2009). The transesterification of triglycerides into methyl or ethyl esters reduces themolecular weight to one-third that of the triglyceride and also reduces the viscosity by a factor ofabout eight and increases the volatility marginally (Singh and Singh, 2010). This produces amixture (biodiesel) with suitable fuel properties.The chemistry of transesterification is mainly centered on triglycerides because oil/fats containabout 98% triglycerides (Ivanoiu, 2011). Therefore, the stoichiometric relationship requires 3mole of alcohol per mol of Triglycerides(3:1) to form one mole of glycerol and three moles of the respectivefatty acid alkyl esters. In practice, the ratio needs to be higher to drive the equilibrium to amaximum ester yield (Ma and Hanna, 1999). The transesterification of Triglyceride is a sequence of threereversible reactions, in which the Triglyceride is first converted to monoglyceride and fatty acid.Then, the diglyceride is converted to glycerol liberating an additional ester, and finally the monoglyceride is converted to glycerol liberating the final fatty acid ester.The plant oil, which contains less than 4% free fatty acids, is first filtered and then pre-processed to remove water and other contaminants. The pretreated oil is then fed directly to the transesterification process along with any products of the acid esterification process. The catalyst, potassium hydroxide, is dissolved in methanol and then mixed with the pretreated oil. If an acid esterification process is used, then additional alkaline catalyst must be added to neutralize any excess acid remaining from that step. Once the reaction is complete, the major co-products, biodiesel and glycerin, are separated into two layers.

Methanol recovery: The methanol is usually removed immediately after the biodiesel and glycerin have been separated. This is done to prevent the reaction from reversing itself. The recovered methanol is cleaned and recycled back to the beginning of the process.

Biodiesel refining: Once separated from the glycerin, the biodiesel goes through a series of cleaning-up or purification steps to remove excess alcohol, residual catalyst and soaps. These consist of multistage washings with clean water. The product biodiesel can be further refined through an additional distillation step to produce a colorless, odorless, zero-sulfur, and premium quality biodiesel.

Glycerin refining: The crude glycerin from the transesterification process may be recovered or used in a fuel blend for steam production. The crude glycerin contains unreacted catalyst and soaps that must be neutralized with an acid. The water and alcohol are also removed to produce 50%-80% crude glycerin. The remaining contaminants include unreacted fats and oils. In large biodiesel plants, the glycerin can be further purified through a series of unit operations to produce a product of 99% or higher purity. This purified product is suitable for use in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.

Transesterification is extremely important for biodiesel. Methanol is the preferred alcohol for obtaining biodiesel because it is the cheapest and the most available (Van Gerpen et al, 2004).

For a transesterification process to occur, 6:1 oil to methanol ratio is usually used. This is to enable the equilibrium to shift to the right in order to favor biodiesel production. Transesterification is a catalyzed reaction which can be base or acid catalyzed. Base catalyzed transesterification is most preferred because of fast reaction rate. Bases used are sodium or potassium hydroxide.

It is important to note that soap might be formed instead of biodiesel which is the target product.

It is common for oils and fats to contain small amounts of water and free fatty acids. Free fatty acids consist of the long carbon chains that are disconnected from the glycerol backbone, they are called carboxylic acids.

If an oil or fat containing free fatty acids such as oleic acid is used to produce biodiesel, the alkali catalyst typically used to encourage the reaction will react with this acid to form soap.

Formation of soap


| |

HO-C-(CH2)7 CH=CH (CH2)7CH3          +      KOH

Oleic Acid                                                 Potassium Hydroxide


| |

K+ -O – C – (CH3)7 CH=CH (CH2)7CH3      +     H2O

Potassium oleate (soap)                                         Water

This reaction is undesirable as it binds the catalyst into a form that does not contribute to accelerating the reaction. Excessive soap in the products can inhibit later processing of biodiesel, including glycerol separation and water washing. Water in the oil or fat can also be a problem by the formation of free fattyacid. When an alkali is present, the free fatty acid will react to form soap while water manifests itself through excess soap formation.The transesterification of oils and fats is often accompanied by 2 side reactions when the feedstocks contain free fatty acid and moisture. Influence of FFAs on the feedstock quality used inbiodiesel production in large part dictates what type of catalyst or process is needed to produce fatty acid methyl esters that will satisfy relevant biodiesel fuel standards such as

American standard for testing material (ASTM) or European norm (EN). The FFA and moisturecontents have significant effects on the transesterification of triglycerides with alcohol using baseas catalyst (Berchmans and Hirata, 2008). When the feedstock contains a significant percentageof FFA (>3 wt. %), typical homogenous base catalysts such as sodium or potassium hydroxide ormethoxide will not be effective as a result of unwanted side reaction in which the catalyst will react with FFA to form soap and water.

1.4 Variables affecting the process of transesterification

1.4.1 Catalysts

Catalysts used for the transesterification of triglycerides are classified as alkali, acid, or enzyme (Vasudevan and Briggs, 2008; Shereena and Thangaraj, 2009; Singh and Singh, 2010).

1.4.2 Effect of molar ratio

Another important variable affecting the ester (biodiesel) yield is the molar ratio of alcohol tovegetable oil. As indicated earlier, this reaction is reversible and the stoichiometry of thetransesterification reaction requires 3moles of alcohol per mole of triglyceride to yield 3moles offatty acid esters and 1mole of glycerol. Therefore, excess amounts of alcohol are needed to shiftthe reaction equilibrium to the product side and higher molar ratios result in greater esterconversion in a shorter time (Shereena and Thangaraj, 2009: Xu and Hanna, 2008). However, thehigh molar ratio of alcohol to vegetable oil makes the recovery of glycerol difficult because thereis an increase in solubility (Demirba, 2008). When the glycerol remains in solution, it helps todrive the equilibrium back to the left, lowering the yield of esters.

1.4.3 Effect reaction time and temperature

The rate of reaction is strongly influenced by the reaction temperature. Higher reactiontemperatures speed up the reaction and shorten the reaction time. In the transesterification ofTriglycerides, the reaction is slow at the beginning for a short time and proceeds quickly and then slowsdown again (Ma and Hanna, 1999).According to Xu and Hanna (2009), the methyl ester yieldincreases with increasing reaction temperature. From the research of Xu and Hanna (2009), whenthe reaction time was 40 minutes, methyl ester yield increased from 74% to 89% and 93% withthe reaction temperature increasing from 25 to 45 and then to 650C. This is thought to be theconsequence of the favorable effect of the high temperature on diffusion of methanol moleculesand reaction with triglyceride molecules.

Hossain et al. (2010) reported 2 hr reaction time gave better ester yield than 6 hour reaction timefor the production of biodiesel. It is generally reported that every reaction has a certain time ofcompletion. For the production of biodiesel, it takes about 90 to 120 minutes to complete theconversion (Singh and Pahdi, 2009). The longer the reaction time, the more the hydrolysis ofester would occur. It might produce many free fatty acids at the end and thisfree fatty acid would participate insoap formation thus reducing the biodiesel yield. Thus excess reaction time does not promote theconversion but favours the reduction in the ester yield.



1.4.4 Effect of moisture and free fatty acid

The quality of any feedstock has considerable effect on the level of biodiesel production(Shereena and Thangaraj, 2009). For alkali-catalyzed transesterification, the Triglyceride and alcoholmust be substantially anhydrous and the free fatty acid level of Triglyceride at minimal because these impuritiesresult to adverse reactions such as saponification and hydrolysis (Drapcho et al., 2008). The soap produced through saponification consumes the catalyst and reducesthe catalytic efficiency, as well as causing an increase in viscosity, the formation of gels anddifficulty in achieving separation of glycerol (Ma and Hanna, 1999). Fukuda et al. (1999) in theirresearch also noted the influence of feedstock quality (moisture and Free fatty acid) on thetransesterification reaction. Excess amount of free fatty acids and water are common features of waste vegetable or animal-based oils’conversion yield of 65% to 84% esters using crude vegetable oil as compared to 94% to 97%. Yield with refined oil under same reaction conditions has been obtained (Singh and Pahdi, 2009).In many cases, feedstock quality deteriorates gradually due to improper handling andinappropriate storage condition. Improper handling would cause the water content to increase. Inaddition, exposing the oil to open air and sunlight for a longtime would cause the concentrationof FFA to increase significantly (Berchmans and Hirata, 2008).


Two of the most commonly used catalyst for transesterification is sodium and potassium hydroxide. The catalyst operate by reacting with the alcohol used (methanol).

CH3OH    +    NaOH                      CH3ONa    +    H2O

Similar to H20 consisting of H+ and OH, CH3ONa can be seen consisting of CH3O (alkoxide; alkylate) and Na+. CH3O is the specie that attacks the ester moieties in the glycerol molecule.

The triglyceride anion picks a proton from the methanol and the alkoxide catalyst is recovered. But if the triglyceride anion reacts with water molecule, it will pick a hydroxyl ion and produce fatty acid instead of methyl ester. This fatty acid will react with the base to form soap. This affects the transesterification reaction negatively.

It is more important to use sodium or potassium alkylate directly since effect of too much catalyst leads to formation of mono or diglyceride as well as fatty acid which are undesirable and will definitely lead to soap formation. This will therefore favor transesterification.


1.6 Why are vegetable oil transesterified to produce biodiesel?

Vegetable oil methyl esters have lower viscosities (resistance to flow of liquid) than the parent vegetable oils (think of honey or syrup which have high viscosities and flow with difficulty, vs. water or milk, which have low viscosities and flow easily). Compared to the viscosities of the parent vegetable oils, the viscosities of vegetable oil methyl esters are much closer to that of petro diesel. High viscosity causes operational problems in a diesel engine such as poor quality fuel injection and the formation of deposit (Van Gerpen, 2004).



1.7 Fuel properties and quality standard of biodiesel.

Specifications for biodiesel require particularly close attention due to the large variety ofvegetable oils that can be used for biodiesel production and the variability in fuel characteristicsthat can occur with fuel produced from this feedstock. Today, biodiesel has much stricterdefinitions in the form of quality standards established to gain wider acceptance from enginemanufacturers, distributors, retailers and users (Johnston, 2006). Numerous biodiesel standardsare currently in force in a number of countries including in the European countriessuch as Germany, Italy, France, and the Czech Republic and the ASTM in the USA. Thesestandards provide fuel property values required for a mixture of alkyl esters to be considered asbiodiesel. If these limits are met then the biodiesel can be used in modern engines with little orno modification (Abayeh et al., 2007).

1.7.1 Kinematics viscosity

Viscosity is defined as the resistance to shear or flow; it is highly dependent on temperature and it describes the behavior of a liquid in motion near a solid boundary like the walls of a pipe. The presence of strong or weak interactions at the molecular level can greatly affect the way the molecules of an oil or fat slide pass each other, therefore, affecting their resistance to flow (Shannon et al, 2009)

The kinematic viscosity test calls for a glass capillary viscometer with a calibration constant (c) given in mm2/s2. The kinematic viscosity determination requires the measurement of the time (t) the fluid it takes to go from point A to point B inside the viscometer.

Dynamic viscosity is the ratio of applied shear stress and rate of shear of a liquid. Generally viscosity increases with the number of CH2 moieties in the fatty ester chain and decreases with an increasing unsaturation (Knothe, 2008). For oils exposed to oxidizing conditions and high temperatures, degradation of the oil is normally accompanied by an increase in viscosity (Popovich and Hering, 1959). Changes occurring in the oil under these conditions can be followed by viscosity measurement. The kinetic viscosity of biodiesel according to ASTM is within the range of 1.6 – 6.0 as shown in Table 1 Lower viscosity may also indicate the presence of methanol in the biodiesel.

1.7.2 Free fatty acid

The interaction of FFA in the feedstock and sodium methoxide catalyst may form emulsions which make separation of the biodiesel more difficult; possibly leading to yield loss. To minimize the generation of soaps during the reaction, the target reduction for FFA in the feedstock was 0.5wt % maximum.

1.7.3 Flash point temperature

Flash point is the minimum temperature at which the fuel will give off enough vapours toproduce an inflammable mixture (fuel vapour and air) above the fuel surface, when the fuel isheated under standard test conditions (Rao, 2011).The fundamental reason for measuring flash point is to assess the safety\hazard of a liquid withregards to its flammability and then classify the liquid into a recognized hazard group. Thisclassification is used to warn of a risk and to enable the correct precautions to be taken whenmanufacturing, storing, transporting or using the liquid (Belewu et al., 2010). Tests have shownthat as little as 1% methanol in biodiesel can lower the flash point from 1700C to less than 400C(Van Gerpen, 2004). Therefore by including a flash point specification of 1300C, the ASTMstandard limits the amount of alcohol to a very low level (<0.1%).The flash point is used as a safety index for biofuels because it correlates to the fuel ignitabilityand varies inversely with the fuel’s volatility. Biodiesel with a flash point of 1500C Falls underthe non hazardous category and it is safe for usage. Specifications also quote flash point forquality control purposes. It indicates the level of purification the fuel has undergone; as thepresence of a very small amount of alcohol in the biodiesel leads to a significant drop in the flash point (Abayeh et al., 2007). Also, a change in flash point may indicate the presence of potentiallydangerous volatile contaminants or the adulteration of one product by another.

1.7.4 Cloud point

Cloud point (CP) is the temperature at which some of the molecules in the fuel first begin tofreeze, resulting in the appearance of crystals in the fuel, which gives it an initial cloudyappearance (Abayeh et al., 2007). A major problem of biodiesel is poor temperature flowproperties indicated by relatively high CP. This makes CP a critical factor in the cold weatherperformance of diesel fuel. Therefore, it is an index of the lowest temperature of the fuel’susability for certain applications. Operating at temperatures below the Cloud point of a biodiesel fuel canresult in filter clogging due to wax crystals (Abayeh et al., 2007). Since the saturated methylesters are the first to precipitate, the amounts of these esters, methyl palmitate and methylstearate, are the determining factors for the Cloud point.The cloud point of a fuel can be modified in two ways. One is through the use of additives thatretard the formation of solid crystals in the biodiesel. The cloud point can also be modified byblending feedstock that are relatively high in saturated fatty acids with feedstock that havelower saturated fatty acid content. The result is a net lower cloud Point for the mixture. Thus, the lower the Cloud point, the higher the quality of the fuel since a high Cloud Point limits the flow properties of biodiesel,which influences its use in a cold environment (Xu and Hanna, 2009). According to Popovichand Hering (1959) the cloud point may also be used in identifying the source of the oil/fat.

1.7.5 Water/moisture content

Biodiesel water content is an important parameter because it affects biodiesel oxidation stability,therefore influencing the storage life of the fuel (Dias et al., 2008). Water can be present in twoforms, either as dissolved water or as suspended water droplets. While biodiesel is generallyconsidered to be insoluble in water, it actually takes up (hygroscopic) considerably more waterthan petroleum diesel. Biodiesel contains as much as 0.15% of dissolved water while petroleumdiesel usually takes up about 0.005% (Van Gerpen, 2004). The standards for petroleum dieselfuel (ASTM D975) and biodiesel (ASTM D6751) both limit the amount of water to 0.05% as shown in table 1. Water promotes adverse reaction to transesterification which will convert biodiesel back into free fatty acid. Suspended water is a problem in fuelinjection equipment because it contributes to the corrosion of the closely fitting parts in the fuelinjection system.The moisture content is particularly important when applied to oils and fuels since it will providea measure of deterioration and contamination (Popovich and Hering, 1959). Water can alsocontribute to microbial growth in the fuel. This problem can occur in both biodiesel andpetroleum diesel fuel and can result in acidic fuel and sludge’s that plug fuel filters (Van Gerpen,2004). The water in biodiesel plays an important role in predicting quality performance of thefuel. In commercial practice, the level of moisture and impurities is one of the most importantquality characteristics limited by norms and standards (Hoffmann, 1986). The low moisture content often shows that a fuel is good and could not be easily subjected tocontamination/rancidity.

1.7.6 Refractive index

The refractive index is the quotient of the sine of the incidence angle of light in the air and thesine of the angle of refraction of light in the substance (Hoffmann, 1986). It employs theprinciple of critical angle using diffused light. It is used in measuring the concentration ofsolutions because when the concentration or density of a substance increases, its refractive indexincreases proportionally (Parthiban et al., 2011).The refractive index is characteristic of each kind of oil/fat. Its value varies with the degree andtype of unsaturation of component fatty acids in an oil/fat sample. Refractive index increases with the increase in unsaturation and with the chain length of fatty acid (Nayak and Patel, 2010).Therefore the refractive index of oils is subject to change during processing (hydrogenation) anduse (polymerization during heat treatments) hence it can be used successfully in quality control.Refractive index and specific gravity measurements rarely provide sufficient information toquantitatively identify a pure analyte, but are highly useful to check oilcontamination/adulteration (Parthiban et al., 2011).

1.7.7 Specific gravity

This is the measure of relative density of the biodiesel compared to the density of water. It is a measure of weight per unit of volume. The relative density of biodiesel is needed to make mass to volume conversions, calculated flow and viscosity properties of biodiesel tanks.

1.7.8 Fire point

This is a measure of the tendency of the test specimen to support combustion. Fire point is a parameter that is not commonly specified, although in some cases, knowledge of this flammability temperature may be desired. It has a direct proportionality to fire point.

1.7.9 Iodine value

The primary products that appear during the autoxidation of fats/oils are hydro peroxides (Liener,1980). These hydro peroxides contain ‘active or peroxide oxygen’, which if decomposed in amedium (acid), can be measured and the amount of hydro peroxides calculated. Peroxide value isthe amount of substances in the sample, expressed in terms of mill equivalent of ‘active orperoxide oxygen’ per kilogram fat which oxidize potassium iodide under the operatingconditions (Hoffman, 1986).Metals present in trace amounts are often responsible for the primary initiation, and metals thatare oxidized by one electron transfer are the most active. Accordingly, cobalt, copper, iron,nickel, manganese and other such metals have been found to be potent lipid per oxidants (Liener,1980). The nature and extent of the changes that take place in fats/oils in storage or upon heatingand oxidation depend very much on the kind of fat/oil used and the conditions under which it hasbeen heated. The usual method of assessing hydro peroxide is by the determination of peroxidevalue (Gunston, 1999).Peroxide value is used to monitor the development of rancidity through the evaluation of thequantity of peroxides generated in the initial product of oxidation. Regarding the nature of thefatty acids involved, the results of most studies demonstrate that in nearly all cases, theunsaturated fatty acids were the most susceptible of the fatty acid in question to these effects(Igwenyi et al., 2011). Saponification value

The saponification value is the number of milligrams of potassium hydroxide required toneutralize the Fatty acids liberated on complete hydrolysis or saponification of 1g of the oil (Igwenyi etal, 2011). Saponification value is an index of the average size of fatty acid present, whichdepends upon the molecular weight and percentage concentration of fatty acid components in theoil (Parthiban et al., 2011).An increase in saponification value in oil increases the volatility of the oil and this enhances thequality of the oil because it shows the presence of lower molecular weight components in 1g ofthe oil. This is in agreement with the report of Afolabi 2011, that oil fractions with saponificationvalues of 200mgKOH/g and above possess low molecular weight fatty acids. Since 1g of oil/fatcontaining low molecular weight fatty acids will have more molecules than oil/fat containinghigher molecular weight fatty acids (Igwenyi et al., 2011). This principle reveals that the numberof milligrams of KOH required to saponify the oil will be greater in the former than in the lattercase. Therefore, the higher the saponification value, the lower the molecular weight of the fattyacids and the better the quality of the oil.

Table 1: International standard of biodiesel



1 Free fatty acid % 0.5 max
2 Acid value mgKOH/g 0.8 max
3 Specific gravity 0.87-0.9
4 Kinematics viscosity Cst 1.9-6.0
5 Refractive index
6 Flash point 0C 130
7 Cloud point 0C -3-12
8 Fire point 0C 53
9 Water content % 0.03 max

Source:National standard for biodiesel, 2003 Sterculia setigera

Sterculia setigera is a multifunctional forest woody tree species in sub-SaharaAfrica, especially known in Senegal for its economic value; its gum is exported since several decades.

The species boiled leaves are used to treat malaria, and the stem bark decoction is used for the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, wound, fever, toothache, etc. sterculia setigera is a deciduous tree with a large, open, spreading crown; it generally grows up to 16 meters tall, but specimens up to 35 meters have been recorded in the Sudan and guineas zones. Research Aims and Objectives.

Worldwide, biodiesel production has been adjusted to the available crops in each region. An oilseed crop amenable to Nigeria’s environmental condition is still in search. The aim of this studywas to investigate the properties of oil methyl esters produced from Sterculia setigeraseeds by transesterification process. The specific objectives include:

  1. Extraction of oil from Sterculia setigera seeds using n-hexane as solvent.
  2. Transesterification of Sterculia setigeraseed oil through methanolysis with a base catalyzed esterification.
  3. Physicochemical characterization of Sterculia setigeraseed oil alkyl ester


DISCLAIMER: All project works, files and documents posted on this website, are the property/copyright of their respective owners. They are for research reference/guidance purposes only and some of the works may be crowd-sourced. Please don’t submit someone’s work as your own to avoid plagiarism and its consequences. Use it as a reference/citation/guidance purpose only and not copy the work word for word (verbatim). The paper should be used as a guide or framework for your own paper. The contents of this paper should be able to help you in generating new ideas and thoughts for your own study. is a repository of research works where works are uploaded for research guidance. Our aim of providing this work is to help you eradicate the stress of going from one school library to another in search of research materials. This is a legal service because all tertiary institutions permit their students to read previous works, projects, books, articles, journals or papers while developing their own works. This is where the need for literature review comes in. “What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.” - Austin Kleon. The paid subscription on is a means by which the website is maintained to support Open Education. If you see your work posted here by any means, and you want it to be removed/credited, please contact us with the web address link to the work. We will reply to and honour every request. Please notice it may take up to 24 – 48 hours to process your request.

WeCreativez WhatsApp Support
Administrator (Online)
I am online and ready to help you via WhatsApp chat. Let me know if you need my assistance.