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In this work, Transesterification of waste vegetable oil has been carried out using Anthill as the catalyst. Anthill was utilized as raw material for catalyst production for biodiesel preparation. During calcination process, the calcium carbonate content in the anthill was converted to CaO with Al₂O₃ as the promoter and SiO₂ as the support.  This calcium oxide was used as catalyst for transesterification reaction between waste cooking oil and methanol to produce biodiesel. The biodiesel preparation was conducted under the following conditions: the mole ratio between methanol and palm oil was 6:1 and with catalyst of 7wt %. The catalyst activation temperature, reaction temperature and reaction time was varied at 600-1000°C, 60-70°C and 1-3h respectively. The maximum yield of biodiesel was 63.14%, obtained at 3h of reaction time and 70°C. Anthill has potential application as a source of catalyst for synthesis of biodiesel of high purity. The catalyst was obtained by calcinations of anthill at 600-1000°C for 3h. The maximum yield of biodiesel produced by transesterification of waste cooking oil with methanol was 63.14%. The operating condition to achieve the maximum biodiesel yield is: the ratio of oil to methanol 1:6, the amount of catalyst 7%, reaction time 3h, reaction temperature 70°C.

CHAPTER ONE 1.0 INTRODUCTION 1.1 Research Background

Currently there is an urgent need to develop alternative energy resources, such as biodiesel fuel due to the gradual reduction of world petroleum reserves, its economic and social concerns and the environmental pollution of increasing exhaust emissions of harmful gases like SOx, NOx, and Cox, coupled with the steady increase in energy consumption have spurred research interest in alternative and renewable energy sources. A successful substitute for diesel fuel, used mainly in the transportation sector, was found to be the mixture of the ester derivatives from the vegetable oils and animal fats. This new feedstock is environmental friendly, renewable, and totally in- dependent from petroleum 

Biodiesel is a renewable, biodegradable fuel that can be manufactured domestically from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant grease. It is a cleaner-burning replacement for petroleum diesel fuel. Biodiesel is defined as the mono-alkyl esters of vegetable oils or animal fats, obtained by transesterification of oils or fats with an alcohol, usually methanol or ethanol. The major component of vegetable oil is triglycerides. When the triglycerides react with alcohol in the presence of base catalyst, this is called “transesterification.” In this reaction, triglycerides are converted to diglyceride, monoglyceride, and finally converted to glycerol. The reaction occurs in three steps. In the first step, a triglyceride reacts with an alcohol molecule producing a diglyceride –ester and then the diglyceride reacts with another alcohol molecule producing a mono-glyceride and another mono-ester, and finally, the mono- glyceride reacts with another alcohol molecule giving glycerin and another mono-ester.  (Vonortas and Pappayanakos, 2014)

Figure 1.1. Transesterification reaction

The parameters affecting the transesterification reaction are temperature, molar ratio of alcohol to oil, type and quantity of catalyst, the type of the process, and the composition of the reactants mixture.

Catalyst is any substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction. Catalyst are not consumed during a reaction therefore it is possible to recycle them. The process for producing biodiesel use different catalyst 

i.             Homogenous (NaOH, KOH, H2SO4)

ii.          Biocatalyst (lipases)  iii. Heterogeneous (metal hydroxides, metal complexes and metal oxides like calcium oxide, magnesium oxide, zeolites etc.)

Homogenous catalyst is a catalyst that is in the same phase with the reactant while heterogeneous catalyst means that the catalyst are in different phase with the reactant. Biocatalyst are known as the enzyme catalyst.

It has been estimated that the cost of biodiesel produced from virgin vegetable oil through transesterification is higher than that of fossil fuel, because of high raw material cost. This has hindered wider utilization and commercialization of future biodiesel plant. To minimize the biofuel cost, in recent days, cheaper feedstock such as low-grade oil, typically waste cooking oil is being used as feedstock. The high viscosity and poor volatility are the major limitation of using vegetable oil in diesel engines. (Paugazhabadivu et al., 2005). Large amount of waste cooking oil is generated from eatery establishment, restaurant and food industry etc. every year, discarding of this oil can be of a challenge since it has the probability of contaminating the environment. (Hubera et al., 2007). Accordingly, this research work will focus on biodiesel production from waste cooking oil using thermally activated anthill.

1.2 Problem Statement  

Homogenous catalyst result in complex separation and purification process steps due to its high saponification. Catalyst gotten from anthill has never been recorded to be used in biodiesel production based on the previous research. The competition of using edible vegetable oil in the production of biodiesel in place of food stock has made it a wrong choice for biodiesel production. Waste vegetable oil poses an environmental concern in the disposal. Depletion of petroleum reserves makes dependence on it as the only source of energy a problem.  

1.3 Aim

This research project is aimed at the investigation of anthill as a suitable catalyst for the production of biodiesel by transesterification.

1.4 Objectives      

•      Preparing the anthill catalyst at varied activation temperature.

•      Varying the time during biodiesel production

•      Varying the temperature and time of the reaction

1.5 Scope of Study

The scope of my study covers the production of biodiesel using anthill as catalyst. Various samples of the anthill catalyst at various activation temperature will be tested during the biodiesel production while varying the methanol to oil ratio, temperature and time of reaction to find out the optimum conditions for the best conversion of the biodiesel.

1.6 Motivation/Significance of Study    

In most of hotels, restaurants, and in other food industries, the waste cooking oil is either simply discharged into the river or dumped into the land, In spite of this, the waste cooking oil can be used effectively for the biodiesel synthesis. Biodiesel production from waste cooking oil is found to be economically feasible method.  This research is proposed to improve the capability of waste cooking oil as a biodiesel feedstock in the present worldwide due to the increasing demand of biodiesel, the environmental concern and limited resources of petroleum oil. Many researches before use waste cooking oil to produce but none has used anthill as a catalyst for the biodiesel production. Hence, this research is to investigate if using anthill as a catalyst will give a good yield and the parameter suitable for the yield.

Biodiesel have so many advantages such as, is a renewable energy sources, safe for use in all conventional diesel engines, offers the same performance and engine durability as petroleum diesel fuel, non-flammable and nontoxic, reduces tailpipe emissions, visible smoke and noxious fumes and odors. So, waste cooking oil is used  as  a  raw  material  to  substitutes  the  petroleum  because  it  provides a safer means of disposing of the oil.

1.7 Justification     

 Availability of anthill across the nation and abundant quantity of waste cooking oil

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