Transesterification, also called alcoholysis, is the displacement of alcohol from an ester by another alcohol in a process similar to hydrolysis, except than a alcohol is used instead of water. This process has been widely used to reduce the viscosity of triglycerides. equation:
Preparation Of Biodiesel_decrypted-3

If methanol is used in the above reaction, it is termed methanolysis. The reaction of triglyceride with methanol is represented by the general equation:

Preparation Of Biodiesel_decrypted-4

The most important variables that influence transesterification reaction time and conversion are:

• Reaction temperature
• Ratio of alcohol to oil
• Catalyst type and concentration
• Mixing intensity
• Purity of reactants

Reaction Temperature

The rate of reaction is strongly influenced by the reaction temperature. However, given enough time, the reaction will proceed to near completion even at room temperature. Generally, the reaction is conducted close to the boiling point of methanol (60° to 70°C) at atmospheric pressure. These mild reaction conditions, however, require the removal of free fatty acids from the oil by refining or pre-esterification. The pretreatment is not required if the reaction is carried out under high pressure (9000kpa) and high temperature (2408°C). Under these conditions, simultaneous esterification and transesterification take place. The maximum yield of esters occurs at temperatures ranging from 60° to 80°C at a molar ratio (alcohol to oil) of 6:1. Further increase in temperature is reported to have a negative effect on the conversion.

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