Methyl Esters Production by Heterogeneous Catalyst Mixtures of CaO/Nb2O5 with Simulation of Analysis of Environmental Impacts

The conventional biodiesel process, although it reaches high conversion yields and productivity, faces problems related to the use of homogeneous catalysts. This work aims to study mixtures of calcium oxide (CaO) and niobium oxide (Nb2O5) as the heterogeneous catalyst. It was used a full 23 factorial design with four central points to analyze how the mass percentage of the oxides, the molar ratio of reactants, and the reaction temperature affect the conversion yield to methyl esters. The best conversion yield was found near to 89% using 1.8% of catalyst, a 1:36 oil to methanol ratio and at 77 ºC as reaction temperature. Finally, it was performed a simplified simulation to compare the heterogeneous catalyst process with the conventional process, and an algorithm to compare the effects of the exit streams of each process would have on the environment. The simulations results display a better performance for the heterogeneous catalyst process studied.